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Protecting the Lumbar Spine in Bridge Work

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#1 bffranklin


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Posted 13 February 2012 - 07:53 AM

Hi all,

Long, long, long time lurker, but first time poster. I've read pretty much everything on the forums about working bridges and progressing to limbers, and have been working the former on the floor and the latter as a walkover from an elevated position. My concern is largely my lack of flexibility through the T-spine that prevents me from developing sufficient upper body arch and protecting my L spine as I attempt walkovers that are closer to the floor -- I'm actually pausing my work on lowering the assist until I can develop my bridge enough to not have tightness in the muscles of the back around L3/L4.

In particular, I'm a little unclear on the concept of "keeping one's hip level with the bottom rib," as it relates to proper bridge position. The photos that have been posted in several threads as good bridges do not seem to have the bottom rib and hip level on a horizontal plane, and I assume I'm misinterpreting the meaning of keeping them level, as I don't see how one could physically maintain a bridge position with straight legs if they were actually level -- the pelvis won't rotate posterior enough without compromising the shape of the L-spine. Is this actually meaning to maintain the abs in a straight line between the bottom rib and hip?

I'm also curious if there are specific exercises that focus on T-spine flexibility, or if I should just continue to work the many posted mobility drills while trying to maintain a neutral L-spine position.

#2 Cole Dano

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 11:28 AM

The basic answer is actually pretty simple, the hips are thinking like they are doing a hollow hold. This is all part of why hollow hold is so important.

The actual relative heights of arms to hips can vary deepening on what your focus is. But in general it's true that the hips don't lift enough. You really have to exert some power from the glutes and hamstrings to lit and tilt the hips.

Another key thing is to not let the knees splay out the knees should stay over the heels so you can create that power to lift the hips.

I've actually found that natural GHRs are an excellent assistance exercise for back bends because it strengthens this motion.

I just wrote some ideas about T-spine work here so won't repeat that -


#3 Dillon Zrike

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 10:12 PM

Just a note about bridge: Make sure you are bending throughout your entire spine. I had a lot of trouble when I first started bridges, and they were very painful. Even after four years they never felt right. I finally discovered that 90% of my bend was coming from only my lower back. My upper spine was totally locked up. I started to work on spinal mobility using rollers etc. and soon I was able to do bridges without any discomfort. It may not apply here but something to think about.


#4 Cole Dano

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 12:08 AM

Dillon is absolutely right. The whole reason for extending the hips is to help spread the load evenly and make a structural connection from legs, hips, lower back, upper back, shoulders, arms. All connecting to form the arch.

#5 bffranklin


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Posted 14 February 2012 - 06:10 AM

Thank you, gentlemen.