(Originally published by www.ptstrengthcoach.com April, 2016)

An internal battle has been waging in my mind over this topic for the past month or so.  I have polled the other coaches I work with, our interns and anyone I can find who I think might have an opinion.  So I thought why not throw it out to the internet world?

It is common practice in the therapy world, particularly with lower extremity injury or back pain that in some capacity we will teach a bridge from supine and cue the patient to “flatten their back” or “tuck your belly button” or “draw your belly button to your spine” among others.  I did this for years when I first came out of school…yes, I’ll admit it.

It is also common practice in the power world to talk about breathing into your diaphragm prior to a big lift to maximize spinal stiffness.  Some examples of practicing this feel are to put a lifting belt tight around the waist and cue the athlete to breathe in so that they feel like they are trying to expand the belt and pop it off in all directions without expanding too much in the upper chest and shoulders (taking a diaphragmatic breath).

I believe that in order to train or rehab an athlete correctly I need to understand what the finish line is when we start.  If that finish line is to be able to produce great spinal stiffness during a power move or any other activity then it makes sense to me to look at what the people with amazing spinal stiffness (aka power athletes) do.

Here is my question…

If the best at creating spinal stiffness breathe with a diaphragmatic strategy then why the heck are PT’s and so many others in the industry teaching a different form of spinal stiffness in the beginning of the rehab/movement retraining process?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to “start at the finish” as Charlie Weingroff has coined and start with teaching people to create spinal stiffness the way they are going to need it at the highest levels?

Maybe it is just over my head but I am curious for your feedback and thoughts! Let me know what you think…

Chris Finn
MSPT