Did you know the average person sits for over 10 hours per day? While alarming, it’s true—and it’s negatively affecting human health and performance in countless ways. One of those negative effects—muscle atrophy—can be highly deleterious for mobility and physical performance, especially when it affects the musculature of the posterior chain. What exactly is the posterior chain, and why is strengthening those muscles critical for physical performance and mobility? Our fitness training experts at Vinna Fitness explain below.
What Is the Posterior Chain?
Your posterior chain is essentially the musculature of the entire backside of your body—from the base of your head all the way to the base of your heels. In the context of physical training, many experts consider this collection of muscles the most critical contributors to proper biomechanics and musculoskeletal stabilization. The major posterior chain muscles include:
● Hamstring muscles.
● Gluteal muscles.
● Calf muscles
● Erector spinae and multifidus (back muscles)
● External obliques (core muscles)
This giant collection of muscles is responsible for facilitating dozens of the movements you perform on a daily basis, including:
● Extending your spine
● Extending your hips
● Flexing your knees and ankles
● Rotating your legs and hips
● Standing up straight
The erector spinae and multifidus muscles are also responsible for supporting and stabilizing your spine during all forms of movement. Basically, if any of these muscles are weak or atrophied, your body won’t move as designed; plus, you’ll likely experience posture issues, muscular imbalance, limited mobility, and over time, chronic pain and injuries.
How Does a Strong Posterior Chain Enhance Movement?
A strong posterior chain gives you more precise control over every movement you perform because it allows you to activate the appropriate muscles. Because so many people tend to sit for extended periods, their posterior chain muscles are significantly underdeveloped. The muscles on the anterior (front) side of the body, however, are disproportionately developed in comparison to the muscles on the back side of the body. This type of muscular imbalance pulls the body out of proper alignment and unbalances the lumbar spine and pelvis, which often leads to acute and chronic lower back pain.
What happens when you develop lower back pain? Your mobility becomes limited, which impedes your ability to perform physical activity, which then compounds the problem. Worse, when your joints are not properly supported due to muscular weakness and imbalance, your chance of suffering an injury is much higher. See the issues here?
Regularly training the muscles on the backside of your body, especially the low back, glutes, and hamstrings, balances your body’s musculature. When your posterior chain muscles are proportionate to the muscles on the anterior side of your body, your muscles activate as they were designed, which lessens your chance of incurring an unexpected injury. You know when you tweak your low back picking something up off the floor? Or how about when you injure your knee swinging a golf club? Those are the kinds of injuries we’re talking about.
Posterior Chain Strengthening: The Basics
Ready to balance your body? Great! The first thing you’ll need to do is practice proper posture. If you’re prone to excessive sitting, there’s a high chance your posture needs major correcting. Pull back those shoulders, open up that chest, engage your core, and tighten your glutes just enough to tilt your pelvis forward if you’re prone to sticking your backside out when you stand. Once you’ve got your posture straightened out, then you can begin working on posterior chain exercises like:
● Glute bridges
● Glute-hamstring raises
● Reverse hyperextensions
● Romanian deadlifts and conventional deadlifts
The movements detailed above are just a tiny sampling of the plethora of exercises that will help improve your posterior chain strength. At Vinna Fitness, our fitness coaches are experts on mobility training and will take you through a functional movement assessment before designing your training program. This assessment allows us to determine which exercises will best improve your movement and strength while reducing your chance of injury.
Need a Personalized Fitness Training Program? Contact Vinna Fitness Today
At Vinna Fitness, we’re not your run-of-the-mill training facility—we’re here to get you results. When you work with us, you receive one-on-one, individualized training that’s specific to your unique needs, limitations, and goals. Our Functional Movement Screening and personalized programming are designed to help you excel in your physical pursuits, and our knowledgeable and highly experienced personal trainers are here for you every step of the way. Want to learn more about how we can help you achieve your goals? Schedule your free strategy session today, or give our team a call at 952-426-3963. Or, you can always feel free to reach out to us on our contact page for more information.