The Importance of the Posterior Chain

Hold that plank!

Ok, during the holiday season, I took the Christmas boxes which held the decorations out of the garage and could feel that my stomach muscles were weak lifting the boxes!
How can this be!? The boxes are not that heavy. I have let myself and my core get out of shape.

I decided to get back to the gym. I normally lift weights but decided I needed a good stretch to begin the new year. I opted for the yoga class. At yoga class this morning there was a substitute instructor and he was very detailed and explained what muscles were being worked and gave detailed instructions on how to achieve the correct posture and what to look for to achieve the goal of the posture which is either working the muscles for strength or stretching. This really made sense to me.

My yoga practice over the years has been spotty at best but I am familiar with many of the postures. The substitute instructor really explained, in detail, the posture for downward dog and forward bend (this instructor called it forward fold) to where I felt the most control I have ever felt doing these yoga poses. He also brought up the posterior chain and explained that it is not the abs that are as important for core work as is the posterior chain.

I am really glad I went today. I saw on the gym schedule that there was going to be a sub and was leary about spending the time with someone who might not be what I was looking for. This instructor was formerly an airplane engineer for a major company so I can see where all the detailed instructions were coming from.

What is the posterior chain?

The posterior chain is the powerhouse of the body and acts as a foundation of our body where all the largest and most powerful muscles are located and are responsible for holding you upright all day long. Our body is a mountain and our head sits atop of it. Since many jobs are sedentary where we sit most of the day, we begin to reap the problems that come with that, namely, lower back pain.

The posterior chain are all located on the backside of the body and includes the muscles that run from your foot, up through your calves, along the back, through your seat, lower back, along either side of your spine and finishing under your skull.

Posterior Chain Muscles

  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Multifidus
  • External Obliques
  • Erector spine muscles
  • Trapezius
  • Posterior deltoids

At the bottom of the page there is a link to click for the yoga postures that I use the most. During the positions for the plank and the downward-facing dog, try it with your hands turned slightly outward, legs together and gluts pressed together. The instructor stressed that the plank is not a push up. You can also do a plank with your elbows on the ground like the models pictured above.

For the forward fold, hang the hands down in front of your feet, toes turned upward and fingers curled around toes. This move is actually quite relaxing

The hips take the brunt of the bodies weight (we are a mountain)and the spine sits atop the pelvis. Downward-Facing Dog is a yoga pose that works the flexibility of the hips, and stretches the calves, hamstrings, glutes and muscles along the spine. To start, come on to all fours. Place your hands under your shoulders and your knees hip-distance apart. Curl your toes under. Lift your hips up and back, working to create a triangular shape with your body. Relax your head in between your arms. Hold this stretch for three to five breaths. Do not practice this pose if you have a shoulder or wrist injury.

Just with any new exercise regimen always consult your physician before beginning.

Web link with yoga postures below.

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