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Tucker Whitcomb

What is a good substitute for L-sits?

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Tucker Whitcomb

Hello all, I have a bulging disc in my lower back that seriously impairs my range of motion. Basically I can't keep my legs straight and bend forward without getting hitting a brick wall of pain. Meaning holding an L-sit isn't really doable. 

 

What is a good substitute for an L-sit?  I also had to give up on training side lever because the exercises started aggravating the back. I can do a sit with my knees bent and if I hold straight legs out to the side, it somewhat helps.

 

Thanks all, enjoying the training and will keep going. 

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ASNB

Dude get some rest. I don't think anyone will suggest exercises online because with a spinal injury u can't know what's going to aggravate it. If you can walk then that will be ur best form of exercise for a while. First couple months after injury should be rest maybe more.

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Cole Dano

Exactly, take care of your back. You can't fight disc pain, but generally it does improve on its own over time. Until then put anything that cause pain on hold. 

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Tucker Whitcomb

Thank you both for your concern and I should clarify something. I've been living with this for about two years now. While there's definitely somethings I can no longer do (weightlifting), I'm perfectly capable of doing others. In fact, GST has helped the back except when I hit the bad ROM. But that's why I'm hoping to find a good substitute until then for things like L-sits.

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Blairbob

Seated leg lifts/holds?

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Wesley Tan

Hi Tucker,

 

Disc bulges are something that can resolve, but this needs to be understood in two respects. Firstly, there is the pain associated with the disc bulge, which is a neurological phenomenon, and secondly the disc bulge itself as a structural entity.

 

What I mean here, is that it is possible to feel less or even no pain and yet still have a disc bulge to some degree.

 

When you say "I have a bulging disc in my lower back that seriously impairs my range of motion. Basically I can't keep my legs straight and bend forward without getting hitting a brick wall of pain" I also take from this that your current level of flexibility is putting too much load on your lumbar discs and in part is a contributing factor to maintaining the disc bulge.

 

I have treated many patients with disc bulges successfully as well as having had many new students that started training with me specifically to rehabilitate such injuries.

 

Your long term progress needs to address the following issues; improve the mechanisms that help transfer weight/forces between the body and legs besides the lumbar spine (this means really developing your core strength and control and specifically the obliques and transversus abdmoinins) and secondly to reduce the factors that are causing more load to be paced upon the lumbar spine (this includes everything from your sitting posture, how many hours you spend sitting, the flexibility through your hips and posterior myofascial chain, activities, exercises etc)

 

You are unable to sit upright with your legs out straight because your calf/hamstring/erector spinae are all currently too short and/or contracted for you to achieve this without flexing overly through your lumbar spine which places load on your disc bulge and hurts.

 

I recommend not doing any seated pike work period. For a healthy spine it's fine, but for you right now it's not. When ever you stretch you need to focus on lengthening through the spine and not compressing. This means you need to always think about making your spine as long as possible, so when you wish to stretch your hamstrings I would do so in a similar fashion to the early RC iM's using a wall bar. Start with bent knees, lengthen through the spine and slowly straighten your legs/knees. Do not straighten your legs if your spine rounds. You need to really develop the anterior tilt.

 

I would recommend the same for jefferson curls or weighted pike stretches. For you the most benefit you will receive is at the bottom of the hang, but only if you manage to keep the lumbar spine lengthened out. I would focus more on weighted pike stretches starting from a full squat. Work your head and costal margin (front lower ribs) as far down below and toward your knees respectively as you can, before straightening out your knees. Aim to keep your chest against your thighs at all times, if you straighten your knees a little and your chest separates from your thighs then you will be compressing through the lumbar spine instead of lengthening. I would continue with this until you can fully straighten your knees and keep the chest in contact with the thighs even if it takes 2 years!

 

I think there is a common misunderstanding regarding compression strength, gymnasts are able to compress (their bodies and legs) primarily via the hip joints, whilst maintaining a lengthen spinal posture! Often we attempt to close the gap between the body and legs via the spinal joints and not via the hips. This is why the anterior tilt of the pelvis is so crucial in both pike and pancake work, I've heard Coach Sommer stress this importance so many times :-)

 

For your core I would really focus on straight arm planks/ front supports and all of the variations that extend from here, long hollows, single arm, single leg, alternating single arm/leg etc. When you work the core this way, with points of support at polar ends and the spine in the horizontal plane, you can really work the core whilst minimising compression forces along the spine.

 

I would also apply heat to the back of your legs and lower back daily (warm hot water bottles for periods of up to 20 mins) to encourage relaxation in these tissues. This has a mechanical effect obviously but it can also help reduce pain associate with the lower back spinal cords segments by reducing afferent input form the muscles helping to de-sensitise a potentially hypersensitive (facilitated as we would say in Osteopathy) as a result of disc bulge.

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Tucker Whitcomb

Wow thank you Wes, this was a far ore in depth response than I could have hoped to get. I've been testing out the pike stretch you mentioned and started doing some front arm holds. Even before the disc, my hamstrings have never been flexible and since it began I've kind of given up on them. Sounds like I should really be doing the exact opposite. I'll start incorporating what you mentioned into my routine.

 

So then the key areas to strengthen are the transverse abs and obliques, essentially the front torso. Is there any benefit to strengthening the lower back muscles or is the real target to strengthen the front muscles and lengthen the hamstrings?

Thanks again for your great post and this was far more in depth than even my physical therapist got.

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