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Back and Tummy Issues

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  • Back and Tummy Issues

    Originally posted by homefire 08-05-2009, 10:27 AM
    I have always felt like floor workouts worked my back more than my abs, and it frustrated me, because that seems like I must be doing something wrong.

    But it just hit me this morning that my back was extremely weak when I started T-Tapping. Most of my back and neck pain was due to weak back muscles, and it has improved a lot as I became stronger. So is it possible that I still need to strengthen back muscles more before I can efficiently use my abs? Is that why I find it pretty much impossible to flatten lower back AND press upper back at the same time during half-frogs? In fact, most of the time when I'm told to press upper back to the floor, I simply cannot do it without releasing somewhere else. I have a very arched lower back--would that have something to do with it, I wonder?

    Another issue is pronated shoulders. I have NO problem keeping my shoulders back--that is actually more comfortable for me. My problem is that most chairs are rounded in at the shoulders, and when I sit in them for any length of time, my upper back gets very sore. It gets sort of crampy and I have to thrust my shoulders back to release it--it actually pops a spot in my spine between the shoulder blades, and the muscle spasm quits.

    Beds are a problem, too. If a bed is firm enough to keep my shoulders from pronating, it's too firm to support my lower back. It leaves a big airspace there which causes my lower back to ache badly in the morning.

    So if you're still with me after all that what I'm wondering is whether this still indicates a weak back that should improve or if I'm just sort of deformed or something. Seriously, the fact that most chairs and beds make me hurt (even after I've been T-Tapping faithfully for over two years) does make me wonder about that.

    I've done Teresa's back exercises, and as I said, I've seen improvement. Most of the time I don't have pain during the day--just first thing in the morning and after sitting in a chair that pushes my shoulders in--but I'm wondering if there might be something else that I'm missing.

    Sorry if this sounds scattered--it's kind of hard to describe it. Any input would be appreciated.


  • #2
    08-05-2009, 12:36 PM

    I hope a trainer will weigh in on this, Ronda, but one thought I had was the advice they give the expectant mamas to put a rolled towel under your hips to help you press that back flat. I remember seeing or hearing that for someone who has a hard time keeping lower back pressed. Might be worth a try?

    I'm sure you'll get some input! Sounds plausible to me, but I'm not a professional!

    ~ ..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
    ¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
    ((¸¸.·´ ..·´ Trisch -:¦:-
    -:¦:- ((¸¸.·´*

    08-05-2009, 01:39 PM

    I really relate to this. (And I know what you mean about chairs and beds!) I have been doing the ol' rolled up towel or folded bath mat under the tailbone area when doing OIP/HF. I am finding it difficult to keep both lower and upper abs "zipped up" while keeping that lower back tight to the floor, but the mat is working for me. It doesn't have to lift you up so very much. It's more of a support. In fact, I sort of wonder how it works, but it does for me. Now if I could only figure out where to put my breath when I inhale while doing all this!

    I have always thought that strong abs lead to strong back, and not vice versa. Maybe it's because we have more control over the development of the abs. (Or not?) I do think, though, that working on back strength without ab strength first can lead to pretty bad back issues. Don't let up on the abs.

    I have definitely seen an improvement in lower back pain (and upper, too) since t-tapping. It's rare now to have a lower back ache, and if I do, it's because I've been standing in the kitchen or somewhere for too long while letting my abs get a little lax. Activating my abs by seriously pressing lower back ("curling the core") really helps for the short term, but the sooner I get to a workout, the sooner it is all better.

    You mention pressing upper back into the floor on HF. I guess I'm not thinking about that so much. As long as the lats are engaged, I don't worry so much about the upper back because there is so much else I'm chasing around and trying to engage! I mean, *something* is on the floor, and since the lower back has to be *forced* onto the floor, I figure the upper back is already sort of there naturally. The engaged lats are important, and I guess I put my shoulders "back" and make sure my sides/ribs are "up". If there is something wrong with this, I hope somebody will chime in and let me know!


    08-05-2009, 03:36 PM

    Okay, somehow I had missed that tip on the towel under the hips. I'll have to try that.

    Nan, I have found that trick about curling when your back hurts to really help. I do it all the time, and I'm always bugging dh to, also.

    I guess it's during Ladybug Floor that she tells you to press lower back, then tighten buns, and then press upper back. The only time I can do that at all is when my feet are on the floor and I'm pushing with them.



    • #3
      08-06-2009, 07:53 AM

      Hi Ronda,
      Floor workouts are designed to support your back while exercising. And it is important to press the spine, particularly the lower back, to the floor for proper back alignment and support to prevent injury. While lying on the floor gravity is pulling the majority of your back to the floor. The Lower back due to its curvature needs muscular activation (TUCK) to bring it into contact with the floor and to enhance Neuro-Kinectic Flow. So your back in a T-Tapp “Tuck” standing position or lying on your back (TUCKED) should be identical - aligned in a straight line from shoulder to hip.
      “ So is it possible that I still need to strengthen back muscles more before I can efficiently use my abs? Is that why I find it pretty much impossible to flatten lower back AND press upper back at the same time during half-frogs? In fact, most of the time when I'm told to press upper back to the floor, I simply cannot do it without releasing somewhere else. I have a very arched lower back--would that have something to do with it, I wonder?”
      T-Tapp incorporates many muscle groupings into each move. The TUCK standing or lying, engages the lower back muscles and when you contract your abs (lower and upper) as if pressing your navel to spine you are working both lower back and abs muscles simultaneously. As far as the “weak back” concern, I wouldn’t be. When doing Half Fogs, you do want to keep your back and shoulders tightly supported to by the floor. Don’t let the momentum of leg movement release your Tuck or pull your lower back up from the floor. As you pull your knees to shoulder and you feel that you’re compromising your lower back press to the floor then that is the limit of the move for you. As you become stronger, your movement will increase.

      Hope this is helpful,


      08-06-2009, 08:20 AM

      Thanks, Dan! So what I'm gathering from this is to not worry too much about my upper back, since it is already supported and at least touching if not actually pressing. That's what I've been doing, but I was always frustrated where she says to press the upper back because I couldn't. Need to let go of that, I guess!~

      I'm re-analyzing everything Teresa says on the workouts because I have been faithfully T-Tapping for two years without flattening my tummy, and it's frustrating. I'm just trying to figure out what I'm missing, so thanks for bearing with me.

      I have figured out one thing-- the tummy tuck is more than one move for me. I pull in the lower abs first, then I can gradually pull the belly button area in and press my lower back, but it takes me a few seconds, so I've really been working on making the whole thing more automatic. It's a two- or even three-step process, and she often doesn't allow enough time in the midst of the workout for me to get it done right. I guess I need an EXCRUCIATINGLY SLOW workout.


      08-06-2009, 08:57 AM

      Hey Rhonda,
      Think of being the recipient of a Body Slam….Can you relate to that? You want to ensure that you are more than just resting on the floor. As you are instructed by Teresa to Press the Upper back, in addition to lower back, your concentration of pressing needs to be focused on the whole back pressing downward at this point.

      I don’t understand this; “I have been faithfully T-Tapping for two years without flattening my tummy,”. Can you explain this a bit more in detail for me?
      The Tuck is more than one muscle group activation but can be perform in one action.

      Try this. In T-Tapp Stance, place your hands on our stomach. Right hand thumb placed directly under your breast bone in a Jazz hand style. Left hand positioned under right hand with left thumb just touching the right hand little finger. Your left hand little finger is reaching downward covering your lower abs. Got that? Now, Tuck! Press lower back and pull navel to spine or contract you abs (upper and lower) inward as if you are trying to push your hand into your abdominal space simultaneously as you tilt your pelvis upward. Your lower back spine curvature should be straighten, (no Curvature) and your stomach or abs should be flatten or sucked inward; All within one movement. Inhale and Exhale, using your hands to feel your breathe as you continue to hold the TUCK position.
      This may take a little practice. But practice will get you there.


      08-06-2009, 09:37 AM

      I did what you described, and it does seem to work a bit better if I really focus, but I can still pull it in more with a second effort. It's like I have some sort of a disconnect or something...the little blob around my belly button doesn't pull in with the rest. Sounds stupid, I know. I'lll keep working on it, of course. I'm doing it over and over sitting here, in fact.

      But it's becoming more clear to me why my tummy is still sticking out. I think a lot of the time, I am just doing a 'zap tuck' like you described, and not getting that last little bit of the tuck in the middle around the belly button.

      And I'm noticing now that that last little tuck really pushes my back a lot flatter. hmmm--wouldn't it be nice if I could eliminate my lower back issues? maybe, maybe...

      I don’t understand this; “I have been faithfully T-Tapping for two years without flattening my tummy,”. Can you explain this a bit more in detail for me?
      Well, I lost inches from everywhere, but I lost about the same each from my waist, abs, and hips, which makes my side silhouette about the same, even though it is smaller. (NOT what I had in mind!) Also, my entire body firmed up quite nicely except for my stomach, which still feels flabby. Very frustrating. It's kind of like a blind spot, because everything around it is firm and nice. (Even the pads on top of my hipbones disappeared, which had never happened before, even when I weighed 120.) Below the bikini line and above the waist, everything is fine, but right around my navel, just a circle in the middle, there is a little jelly belly.

      There! Is that detailed enough for you?

      Another thing I just thought of when reading back over your post...
      I have been re-training myself over the past few years to breathe deeper. A doctor told me that I was a chest breather and wasn't using my diaphragm efficiently--that the abdomen should expand when you take a breath, and I should focus on doing that in order to help my back and neck tension. So when you're holding a tuck, should your abs expand when you inhale? Mine don't, so it's really hard for me to take a very deep breath while I'm tucked. Is that normal?


      08-06-2009, 10:38 AM

      Continue practicing with this technique. It’s new and the second effort you are now experiencing to bring your abs in all the way will become one within the Tuck movement.

      Are you ready to take it up a notch? Try this> * Get into a T-Tapp Stance. Tuck (as previously described), Lift Ribs, Shoulder Up, Back and Down. Engage Lats. Arms out to the side with Jazz hands Reaching down with engaged isometric arm activation. Come on, Reach, Extent those arms and get the fingertips as close to the floor as you can. Fully engage the arm muscles, they should be rigidly solid. Now, try to compress your ribs down to your waist. Think of building a V shape of your rib cage from under your arms down to your waist. Compress the Ribs one at a time from the Top Down build that V and hold that shape. Tighten Leg muscles and press body weight down to floor with KLT. Harder, Press- Press downward feel every ounce of body weight on the soles of your feet. Keep Arms and Lats engaged and Lock them tight. Now, apply your second effort to engage you Abs. Pulling them in to your Max and Pressing back straight While holding Abs in, Inhale and Exhale Bigger, Abs will sink in a bit more on the Exhale. Hold them tight for a 2 count!!! Again, Inhale and Exhale Bigger. Now SLOWLY release Abs just enough to release some of the Ab tightness, (keep Pressing body weight down and keep those Lat and arms tight and reaching) Inhale and Exhale Bigger do this again, Inhale and Exhale Bigger. Again, Pull the Abs in with a Second effort Inhale and Exhale Bigger hold for 2 count. Don't release those Arms, keep Reaching, Again Inhale and Exhale Bigger and hold for 2. Slowly release abs and Kick it out.

      When you compress the rib cage into a V from the top down to waist, you lung capacity is reduced and your diaphragm will be used. You will not see a large movement in the diaphragm, just a slight raise on the inhale.



      • #4
        08-06-2009, 07:44 PM

        "... ... bed... ... too firm to support my lower back. It leaves a big airspace there which causes my lower back to ache badly in the morning."
        I just wanted to say to dear homefire, that yes, your too-hard mattress is a part of the morning backache. It happens to me on my own hard mattress, does not happen when I am on softer ones. And it is directly related to times I turn onto my back to sleep. I need to get another mattress, but busyness keeps me from it - it's on my list. This is one reason I don't begrudge moments when I have to get up in the night, because, hey, it moves my back around and keeps me limber! LOL!

        Now to re-read all of the excellent advice you've been given. Great post.

        ¸.• ´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)
        (¸.•´ (¸.•'* M. H.

        08-08-2009, 10:35 AM

        Yeah, I need a new mattress, too-- desperately. Ours is an air bed, which looks like it should be perfect, but when I make it softer, then my shoulders are pronated because it has raised ridges at the sides and middle. So if I soften it, my back just hurts in a different place in the morning. I do it for a change whenever one spot gets too painful, though. I really need a mattress that is firm at the top and soft in the you suppose they make something like that?

        Thank you Dan! I printed that off, so now I will go try it--couldn't keep it all in my head to read from the screen!


        12-07-2011, 04:03 PM

        I've been having some major chiropractic work since June. One of several issues for me as been to correct too much curvature in my lower "sway back". One thing that helps me is to place a couple pillows (stacked on top of each other) under my thighs, knees...I'm tall, so you may have to play w/ where to position them for you. The goal is to have your legs supported in such a way that your back is arching, on the bed. I start off every night like this with my arms at my sides and my palms up. I can only sleep--at the most--about 2 hrs. in this position. Then, when I turn to lie on my side, b/c I have a very small waist, I have another pillow to put in the space between my ribs, and hip--keeps the spine straight. I put another pillow between my knees and a pillow behind me to support, so I can relax without any concern of muscles pulling. Finally, before I get out of bed in the mornings, I either lie on my back and pull one knee in toward my chest and hold for a few counts, then switch to the other leg. Or, I turn on my stomach but pull my legs under me. Often I put some pillows in the space between my knees and chest and relax a bit with back rounded. You could get up and do this by leaning over a stability ball. These are just some things that have helped me. By the way, I have a chiropractic pillow I sleep on. The edges of the pillow are designed for the curve of your neck to rest on while there is a depression in the middle of the pillow that allows for the back of your head to rest in. That is another major area of work the chiro has done for me. This pillow helps with my shoulder placement. Just tossing it out for something else you might want to try to see if it is helpful for you.


        12-28-2011, 11:53 AM

        Vanetta, how cool that you wrote this to me. I just recently started sleeping with pillows under my knees. I needed to after surgery, and it helped my back so much that I've kept it up. Part of my problem, though, is that I never really roll over in my sleep. I have no idea why, but I don't, and for years I would wake up stiff and sore. So I stay on my back and the pillows stay in place all night most nights, and it seems that the stiffness isn't quite as bad. I also have a shoulder issue recently which keeps me from lying on my side anyway. Also, I have tried to sleep with palms up and cannot get comfortable that way unless they're elevated. And I can't quite bring myself to bring MORE pillows into the bed! I already feel like the big pile under my legs is a little weird. LOL!