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Old 05-05-2010, 08:09 AM   #1
James Forshaw
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Lumbar spine during overhead press

I've had a search but nothing came up that addresses my specific question.

Recurrent injuries have got me thinking about what my lumbar spine should be like, both during the shoulder press and when a heavy weight is locked out overhead.

My lumbar spine is always arched when pressing (as if I was about to descend into a squat) and I'd never had any problems with pressing until a couple of weeks ago when with a moderate weight (65kg) I felt my back pinch sharply - pretty bad too, probably the worst sudden episode I've ever experienced. Since it was to the left of the spine and is ok now thanks to regular supermans and ibuprofen, I assume it was muscular. For the first time though, I actually wondered if your lumbar spine is meant to be arched when pressing as for a back squat? Rip says the spine supports weight best in an arch but this may just be for squats, or does it mean overhead work too?

I've tried pressing and supporting large weights (post jerk) overhead with my hips pulled under me and contracted glutes, but it just feels weird. My back has been dodgy for a while, thanks to not stopping upon unacceptable form deterioration with deadlift and clean workouts. So it may just be that the pressing just aggravated my back instead of causing it. Essentially though I just want to be sure - pressing and overhead work, lumbar arch or no arch?
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:07 AM   #2
Andrew Schechterly
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Re: Lumbar spine during overhead press

As far as I understand it, though I'm no professional, you should have an arched lumbar spine for just about every exercise under the sun. Pressing, to me, seems to be one of the easiest exercises to keep an arch during, since you're already standing up. The back pinching may be too much leaning back during the press. I've had that happen to me and it feels as if I am about to break in half. I just lowered my weight and continued my linear progression from there, with good form.
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:02 PM   #3
Jared Ray
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Re: Lumbar spine during overhead press

You should be solid underneath the bar including contracting your glutes. Everything should be tense.
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:14 PM   #4
Júlíus Magnússon
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Re: Lumbar spine during overhead press

Check out the videos on the mainpage from Rip on pressing.

In one of them he talks exclusively about how you should not be arching your back and instead be keeping it straight.

Think hollow position from gymnastics.
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Old 05-05-2010, 03:36 PM   #5
James Forshaw
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Re: Lumbar spine during overhead press

Thanks for the responses guys. It was a moderate weight but it did happen on the 5th rep so I was arching like a maniac. Thanks for the cue, Julius, definitely useful to have a definte position in mind. I'll get right on that video now.
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Old 05-05-2010, 03:55 PM   #6
Kevin Shaughnessy
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Re: Lumbar spine during overhead press

I like to wear a belt while pressing to help prevent this problem.
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Old 05-05-2010, 04:25 PM   #7
Mike Mallory
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Re: Lumbar spine during overhead press

you arch to overcome the weight and get better leverage with your arms.....If you arch too much then you overload the small facet joints. The load should be equally spread through the disc/facet/collagen......When you go out of neutral, you overuse on of the three.

If you have any restrictions in your ROM in certain segments, then their load-bearing capability will double up on others. Most of the time this happens at the thoracolumbar junction. Keep a stable core, and don't overdo the weight so you have to bend over backwards to get it up-
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Old 05-05-2010, 06:54 PM   #8
Steven Low
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Re: Lumbar spine during overhead press

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Originally Posted by Mike Mallory View Post
you arch to overcome the weight and get better leverage with your arms.....If you arch too much then you overload the small facet joints. The load should be equally spread through the disc/facet/collagen......When you go out of neutral, you overuse on of the three.

If you have any restrictions in your ROM in certain segments, then their load-bearing capability will double up on others. Most of the time this happens at the thoracolumbar junction. Keep a stable core, and don't overdo the weight so you have to bend over backwards to get it up-
Pretty much this.

You want a regular lumber curve but no hypexextension.

Most people need more hip mobility, especially hamstrings...
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:06 PM   #9
Chris Mason
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Re: Lumbar spine during overhead press

Strengthen your abs etc.
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Old 05-06-2010, 04:26 AM   #10
James Forshaw
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Re: Lumbar spine during overhead press

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Originally Posted by Steven Low View Post
Pretty much this.

You want a regular lumber curve but no hypexextension.

Most people need more hip mobility, especially hamstrings...
Foiled again My hamstrings are ridiculously tight. I can squat A2G but I have to really arch my back as if doing a superman to do it without a butt-wink at the bottom.

I'm not sure how hip mobility is an issue here though? I think if I keep my glutes and abs tight, and if I must lean back then lean back about my hips and not my lumbar spine (as in Rip's video), then that should sort the problem.
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