Hey Supple Hoard,
Today’s episode is homage to the simple but oft misunderstood movement cue; “Arch”. Turns out arching is quite a useful skill to acquire when handling heavy weights. So is being able to open your car door all the way. But you wouldn’t regularly open that same door to the limits of it’s hinges every time would you? Of course not. Think of your spine in the same way. The structures of your spine are designed to keep you from breaking in half. They don’t exist so that you can rest on them while squatting. Think of this cue as expressed in other parts of your body. Do you hyper-extend your knees when you stand? No, of course not. How about your elbows? Yeah of course you jam them into end range and hang on the joint when at the end of bench pressing (not). Heck, even the crazy Chinese acrobat hand balancers don’t hang on their elbow joints at end range.
Talk to any “back extension” heavy athlete in their 30′s and 40′s and they will talk their herniations, stenosis, fractures, spondys, and generally crazy loose spines. As an example, I was being instructed in correct free fall positioning by one of the best instructors in the world. His cue? “Arch hard, like when you squat. Dump your pelvis over until it’s tight and throw your head back.” He then asked me if we could talk after the jump because he was scheduled for back surgery for his stenosis. Weird right?
Oh we know you can get away with the “arch and forget it” for awhile, but remember that for a technique to be valid, you need to come out unharmed at one rep or a million.
Arching is a very valid cue, but as always, strive to understand the reason behind the cue. Oh, and be sure to arch hard in your next set.