Top 10 Muscle Imbalances and What To Do About Them #5

#5 Lumbar Paraspinals Dominate Abdominals

If you have lumbar paraspinals that look like telephone poles it’s a safe bet your abdominals are in La La land. And don’t make the mistake of thinking just because you have 8-pack abs they have your back (literally). Do they show up when it counts for stability? Are they all show and no go?

The largest fitness demographic I see this imbalance in? Crossfit

I’ve never seen a program that can develop the human machine like Crossfit. Pretty damn impressive. It’s a fantastic program for those that know how to do it the right way. Get a great coach and you can do some incredible things.

When I assess movement relationships and muscle patterns I find people have an extremely difficult time when it comes to abdominal engagement. The goal when I work with them is to have the engine match the body. Ferrari inside and out. Horsepower firing on all cylinders. When we optimize the paraspinal and abdominal pattern they unleash hellacious strength! And that’s the goal.

My good friend Paul Mcllroy says, ‘Strength isn’t built, it’s granted by your nervous system.’ Just beautiful and right. We give the green light to power and strength when there is balanced efficiency.


Don’t be all show and NO GO

The lumbar paraspinals extend your torso, anterior tilt your pelvis and laterally flex your spine.


They work functionally with the multifidi, rotatores, quadratus lumborum, and latissimus dorsi to extend the torso. If any of these guys don’t work so well (I’m calling you out multifidi) the paraspinals have to do more work. And they don’t like it. I also look at the glute max as a functional extender of the back. Think hyperextensions.

The lumbar paraspinals are functional opposites to the abdominal muscles which flex your torso forward and posterior tilt your pelvis. The abdominals are best designed for anti-extension more than flexion. They decelerate torso extension.

How does this dysfunctional domination pattern occur?

  • LIFE

Take your pick!

It’s important to note that in this blog series of the muscle imbalances it doesn’t mean that you are going to get hurt, it doesn’t mean something is horribly wrong and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. The body is really adept at compensation and adaptation. That being said, helping these relationships become more efficient feeds forward into needing less effort to accomplish a given task. That’s just smart.

How can you assess the relationship?

  • Observation of muscle development. Particularly overdevelopment of the lumbar paraspinals and decreased tone of the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis and obliques)
  • Movement. Over arching and extending the torso in rotation, squatting, or leg lifts.
  • Pain in the lower back. That’s a sure sign
  • Excessive Anterior pelvic tilt. What other muscles tilt the pelvis forward? Rectus femoris and Psoas


What to do about it?

    • Release the Lumbars with soft tissue tools. Not recommended to put the lumbar spine on a roller
    • After release lie in your back. Place your feet up on a wall in what’s called a Triple Flexion Position. Ankles at 90 degrees Knees at 90 degrees. Hips at 90 degrees. Flatten your lower back agains the floor for a count of 4 seconds. Hold 4 seconds. Release 4 seconds. Repeat 4x. That’s my CORE 4 MATRIX

  • Lightly press hands down into the ground with palms up before you tilt.
  • Don’t hold your breath
  • You can re-enforce sensory feedback to change habit via tape on the front line or the back line. Whichever you feel gives you the most input.

STAY STRONG and share the MOJO

Next up…QL dominating Psoas