Use the Back Bridge Exercise to Improve Posture and Reduce Back Pain?

December 9, 2009

Up until recently, the last time I did a back bridge was in a junior high PE class. This winter I am doing a routine that incorporates a mild version of the back bridge, called the hip bridge. As soon as I added in hip bridges, I knew this is the exact exercise that my body was looking for. My back has been injured for 20 years and my lower spine has a tendency to lose the healthy natural curve and flex forward a bit. Things like sitting at a desk for a lot of the day just add to the problem. This past week I have been researching back bridges and possibly incorporating this exercise into my routine permanently. But they are kind of controversial.


[This picture doesn't have a lot to do with this post, but people keep telling me that Rain from Ninja Assassins got in great condition for this movie. Yeah, the guy looks pretty darn ripped.]

My Experience With Hip Bridges

So I am pretty new to bridging. People who do Yoga, Martial Arts, Wresting, Gymnastics, and sports of that nature have probably been doing this exercise for years…but it is new to me. So far I have been doing hip bridges a few times per week for about 2 months and my lower back feels better than it has in a long time.

A Quick Video of a Hip Bridge…

[Josh, the guy in the video does a great job at explaining this exercise. I have never heard of this trainer before, but he does a spot on job of describing and demonstrating this exercise.]

What I Like About Hip Bridges

Hip bridges automatically make the muscles that contribute to good posture, fire off. I also get an amazing active stretch in the hip flexors and quads in a way that actually increases active flexibility. When I try to do the quad stretch or hip flexor stretch where I am standing and grabbing my foot with my arm and pulling it to my glute muscles…it doesn’t lead to any active flexibility. Hip bridges improve my posture and flexibility immediately and that effect lasts for a few days minimum. I actually feel a little taller after doing a few sets!

A Great Exercise to Do After Planks

Try doing a few sets of 2 minute holds after doing planks. It will make your entire mid section and core warmed up. It feels as if the deep spinal muscles get worked and loosened up. I also plan on using hip bridges as a warm up before doing things like bent over rows or overhead presses. It reinforces correct spinal alignment before putting a load on the lower back. As Josh explains in the video, it also ensures that your glute muscles fire properly during squatting motions.

I Am Just Beginning to Look Into Back Bridges

Back bridges are quite a bit more extreme than hip bridges, but many people swear by them. A leading authority on lower back health, Stuart McGill, isn’t as enthusiastic about this type of movement for the back. In “Low Back Disorders” he states that this can cause a fatigue fracture (spondylolisthesis). Great book by the way…I have it on my desk right now. So one of the leading back experts is not a fan, but some people swear by them.

Here is a Quick Demo of a Back Bridge…

Matt Furey of Combat Conditioning Swears By These

Not sure if you guys have heard of Matt Furey or not, but he has a pretty big market share of the fitness market. His approach is more towards functional fitness and protecting the body against injury. Furey claims that that the Back Bridge stretches the spine and strengthens the neck, back, thighs, hips and buttocks like nothing else.

Paul Wade Says Back Bridges Combat-Proof the Spine

I had not heard about Paul Wade until recently. He just released a book with a controversial title, “Convict Conditioning“. I don’t like the name of the book at all, but I had to order it…mainly to do more research on back bridges. It is on the way to my place, so I haven’t read it yet.

Some of the Things Paul Wade Says About Bridges

I will just list some bullet points from the sales page of the book. It really makes me curious about this exercise. The curiosity was killing me, so I had to order the book.

  • Why the bridge is the most important strength-building exercise in the world.
  • And ask yourself this: how big are your spinal muscles?
  • Develop this first line of defense against spinal injuries.
  • Why you should sell your barbell set and buy a cushioned mat instead.
  • Why bridging is the ultimate exercise for the spinal muscles
  • Why the short bridge is wonderful therapy for those who have suffered disc injuries.
  • How to train your spineā€”as if your life depended on it.
  • How to own a spine that feels like a steel whip.
  • Makes You Think A Little!

    I am just beginning my research on this exercise. I am probably going to order another book or two from other authors as well. At some point I will do a more involved article, but for now I wanted to see who has had experience with this exercise.

    Please Comment and Let Me Know Your Experiences With Bridges…

    Would love your feedback!

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    Rusty Moore

    ----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

    { 47 comments… read them below or add one }

    J. Emory March 10, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Rusty,

    Nice! Glad someone else has found this to be true. I learned about bridging from Matt Furey, and I have had no LOWER back pain for over 4 yrs. All I do is 3 reps/day holding for about 10-15 sec/rep, and wala!! BTW I play a lot of golf, so lower back pain has bothered me for the past 15 yrs.

    Anonymous March 29, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I know this is an older post, but Rusty, if you’re still reading comments here….

    I know your personal experience is with lower back pain, but if you happen to find some, I’d love to get information on how to eliminate pain in the MID-back. It seems that quite a few people experience this but I don’t have the slightest idea which muscles to strengthen (and what exercises will strengthen them), or what opposing/antagonist muscles might be yanking things out of place or adding stress.

    Janalyne April 4, 2010 at 1:36 am

    I absolutely love bridges…hip, back, and neck bridging has tremendous benefits in my own workouts and I’ve used it with clients as well for increasing strength and decreasing back pain. Many clients comment on noticing a change after just the first few workouts!

    G.P. July 29, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I was doing back bridges when I was younger back in my elementary, middle school and high school days and let me tell ya, back bridges feel damn good! Everything gets a nice stretch! I’m starting to get back into bridges since I started working out again. I’m 30 now. I can’t hold a bridge for too long yet since I haven’t done it in years but from what I can do it feels pretty good especially for the lower back.

    Back Pain Relief Products September 24, 2010 at 6:02 am

    The wrestler’s Bridge is a very good exercise to build neck strength, for back pain, I find back extensions effective, strong abdominal muscles can also reduce back pain, especially lower back pain.

    Joseph September 27, 2010 at 11:07 am

    found a great site at http://purefitnesstulsa.com. Check it out

    Jay Jay April 4, 2011 at 1:19 am

    I have a bad back and have had to have specialist treatment to keep it mobile, but have been told that the only way to alleviate the pain totally is to operate. I am getting less and less able to exercise to keep my muscles strong. I have found that supplements help (like KreAlkalyn which is a form of Creatine) as it gives me a boost to help continue with my exercises. Just because you see a fit, healthy looking body with good muscle mass, doesn’t mean that body is feeling good – take it from me.

    Missed Period April 14, 2011 at 9:02 am

    wow, thanks for the videos. i need this. much time on the computer sometimes makes you forget your posture… and then you become comfortable… haaaay… but really, thanks for this post! very helpful!

    Sol Hinchliffe July 14, 2011 at 12:53 am

    Back bridges should be done with supervision and care if one is still new to the exercise. Injury claims specially for back injuries should be taken into consideration when exercises for the individual are usually back related workouts.

    Immunization Schedule September 13, 2011 at 8:50 am

    This video is really helpful. It helped me with my back injuries. I would surely recommend this to anyone! Thank you!!

    hugh September 1, 2012 at 5:54 am

    the back bridge is the best exercise you can do for your spine & back. just learned about them @ the end of 2011 nov/dec through cc paul coach wade.his message is excellant for get the titles,just use his knowledge you cant go wrong. cc 1&2 cant put them down. cant wait for #3. thanks h p m

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