Forums General Transversal Plane

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    • #71460
      AvatarKristian Klausen
      Participant

      I am a Crossfit coach and have noticed that Crossfit’s movements tend towards training in the saggital plane. According to what I’ve read about the spine this is a good way to protect the spine with proper bracing mechanics, but I was curious about the effects of training in the transversal plane where the spine twists laterally. Do these movements increase the sheering forces on the discs and expose us to more of a risk of injury? Or is twisting less/as damaging as flexion/extension under load/intensity? It seems that some movements involving some level of twisting (like certain variations of single arm kettlebell swings) can make it very difficult to keep the spine braced.

    • #76185
      AvatarNathan Richer
      Participant

      I’m a fan of Stuart McGill’s work. I believe he would say the safest would be neutral spine all the time.  However, it is evident that some people do some amazing things outside the neutral spine position. a great recent example was in a MWOD episode with Matt Vincent where he snatches with a rounded upper back. he maintains the shape of the rounded upper back which protects it (movement during loaded situations is bad for the spine, but static seems ok in certain conditions) but as he throws the bar up, he unloads his spine and then reshapes it to be neutral/extended for the overhead where it is braced again. so he escapes injury because he changes shape when his spine is unloaded but not when it is.

      I believe Stu McGill would also say that the lumbar spine should always be braced and there should be little or no movement there. the t-spine is much more able to move and rotate and thus most of any spine motion should come from there.  
      and there is the concept of global flexion/extension and as well as global twisting, where each segment takes part of the load and thus the whole system is more resilient to loads. it’s when there is lack of mobility somewhere and the flexion/extension/twisting is happening at only one disc. this will wreck the disc for sure.
      i think 1 arm KB swings are a good example. in order to “toss” the KB between the legs between the back swing with one arm, you will have a little bit of rotation in the spine to do so. hopefully it is more global than local and happening with braced lumbar spine and most of it happening in the t-spine. the GS KB folks even take that more to extreme with lots of spinal twisting to enable use of the fascial loading to aid in their movements and help them with snatch endurance.
      i do not know if there are many longitudinal studies on KB swingers has been done, but certainly many have survived decades of good 1 arm swinging without major spinal problems…
      so i think that if you can aid in spinal mobility and make sure movements aren’t confined to only one disc, and aren’t really doing extreme twisting motions (1 arm swing spinal rotation isn’t all that much, just enough to toss the KB between the legs properly- training in GS style i would highly recommend with a competent instructor for sure), there are conditions where it would seem that some t-spine rotation is OK.
    • #76186
      AvatarNathan Richer
      Participant

      i would add that i still would not recommend significant loading and twisting. i would not recommend doing trunk twists with a loaded barbell on the shoulders. that would seem way too risky vs. any potential reward benefit.

      i should also add that rotation can be deceptive. sometimes rotation shouldn’t happen in the spine but in the hips. think golfers who develop back problems. they are swinging way too much with their spine but with restricted hips the spine takes all the beating. instead, they should brace the spine properly, and have loose hips enough to make rotation happen there…
    • #76202
      AvatarKatie Hemphill
      Participant

      Naudi Aguilar of Functional Patterns is actually highly critical of the lack of transverse plane training in CrossFit style programming and much of modern strength and conditioning. He argues that real human movement has a large rotational component, and training exclusively in the sagittal plane neglects this movement requirement. However, most of the rotation-specific training you’ll see in typical strength and conditioning doesn’t train rotation, per se, but the ability to nullify rotation. We train to not rotate at the spine when forces would otherwise force rotation.

      I think the sweet spot is probably somewhere in the middle. I don’t think we can completely neglect the need for controlled dynamic rotation in human movement. There are just too many disciplines that require it. As David said, much of the rotation we perceive is actually occurring through the lower extremity, but unless the hips and shoulders remain perfectly squared off, spine rotation has occurred. Training for anti-rotation is a start, much like building a plank will help a beginner learn the push-up, but it is incomplete.

      I think rotation of the spine is allowable and important, but it has to be recognized that there is a finite physiological limit to the ability of the segments to rotate on one another. This means that an important feature of training the rotational athlete (read: human) is teaching them to recognize and control rotation within safe biomechanical ranges. On top of that skill component, training needs to enhance their ability to manage eccentric forces through the supporting musculature (the coiling part) as well as their ability to quickly change direction once the rotation has been slowed (the uncoiling part).

      Now, discs have been mentioned, but the disc is really going to be at risk if rotation is combined with sagittal or frontal plane movements of the spine (flexion, extension, lateral flexion), as this sort of “unwinds” the connective tissue surrounding the disc. If the rotation is pure(ish), then you really only have to worry about the physiological end ranges of the facet joints, which have a varying rotational capacity across the spine. The lumbar spine allows very limitted rotation, while the cervical spine allows the most. The thoracic spine allows enough and, as was mentioned, is where much of the rotation in sporting activities comes from, since we like to keep our eyes on the prize.

      Okay, long-winded, but hopefully somewhat enlightening. Don’t demonize rotation, just respect it and train it progressively and properly.

    • #76205
      AvatarKristian Klausen
      Participant

      Makes sense. I definitely don’t demonize rotation but I’m finding that it can take months or more to retrain proper spinal bracing and get scapular rotation and glute activation going in most people. So programming movements involving rotation are definitely risky (and pointless) if you haven’t properly trained movement in the saggital plane first. I think transverse movement is kind of a level above saggital movement. It requires much more muscular control and stability and awareness.

    • #76209
      AvatarKatie Hemphill
      Participant

      I would agree with that, Joshua. Similarly, I think it easier to teach people bilateral strength and conditioning movements, in many cases, before their unilateral counterparts for the very reason that the rotational demand is diminished.

    • #76313
      AvatarAnonymous

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