There are two chains that function in opposing fashion with the ultimate goal of balance (if you want to sound fancy you could say homeostasis). You have your anterior chain that consists mainly of your hip flexors and quadriceps (quads). These muscles draw us forward. Think of running, walking, even sitting and sleeping. These muscles are serious; they work together like an army knowing precisely when to fire, and they work hard! In fact they work so hard and so well that the majority of us are suffering from our anterior chain dragging our behinds. And as a drill sergeant spits in the face of soldiers, so does the anterior chain as it screams for our dairy-ere to get it in gear! The unspoken predicament is the fact that our posterior chains are tired, overstretched, and weak.
Now let’s meet your posterior chain. It is comprised of your gluteal muscles, hamstrings, and lumbar extensors. Basically posterior chain is another way of referring to your backside, but you won’t hear any songs about it. (Oooooh shake that posterior chain, posterior chain, posterior chain. C’mon baby!) Yeah. No.
Now the glutes can be likened to that needy person who constantly begs for your affirmation and attention, never gets it but is always there for you. If you listen closely you may be able to hear them crying to their psychologist about how you ignore them but they have so much to offer and your life would be way better if only you would just give them a chance. Truth be told, they are right. Your life would be way better if your hip flexors and quads weren’t so over utilized and pulling your pelvis into a forward tilt. Because of this immense pull the glutes and hamstrings become overstretched causing them to weaken and creating a viscous cycle. (Cue chilling music: dun, dun, dun!)
Enter the dreaded backlash. The weakened glutes and hamstrings cause a chain reaction, aka your body telling you something is wrong. This shows up as low back pain as the erector spinae get caught in the mix, then the abs fall victim trying to compensate by drawing the pelvis posteriorly, ultimately failing. The result equals a mess of restricted movements and pain followed by chalking it up to old age.
The kettle bell strengthens the glutes at the same time promoting flexibility of the hip flexors AND strengthening the abs! Just like Super Nanny it reinforces coordination between muscles so they know when to fire and who takes the load when (yes the fighting can be stopped!). All of this can be done with a simple swing. Is it a dream come true? I like to call it your life line. Sure iron can be cold, but sometimes we all need a little tough love.
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Kerry M. Davis LMT, CIMT, SFG