One of the most important things, if not the most important when it comes not only to CrossFit but any athletic training or human physical movement is to keep proper spine stabilization. As essential as it is, it often becomes easy to compromise this technique because the task at hand is based on time or score so we as competitors do whatever it takes to get the job done. However, practicing proper spine stabilization is key to minimizing risk of injury, preventing compromised movement and technique, and increasing force and output.

Overextension vs Rounding

The two primary ways midline spinal organization is broken is by either overextending or rounding of the back. When one’s back is arched and their stomach pointed out, they are overextended. When the back is rounded as in when trying to pick up a heavy deadlift the spine is in a rounded position.

MidlineStabilizationRoundedBack                   MidlineStabilizationOverextension

How To Keep a Stable Spine

The best thing about developing a good habit of midline stabilization is that it can be practiced anywhere. From sitting down at a computer to performing a grueling workout, the concept is the same.

As you hopefully know, all physical strength and movement begins with the core, hence the setup of midline stabilization:

  1. In a standing position, place your feet forward directly under your hips
  2. Squeeze your butt as hard as you can keeping your ribcage over your pelvis
  3. Tighten your abs locking everything into place

At this point your midline should be stabilized, however, without mentioning the following it would be incomplete because without your nervous system intact, your strength will breakdown.

Next, keep your head in a neutral position centered over your shoulders, shoulders over your hips and your hips over your ankles and lastly rotate your shoulders externally to properly set your chest. Now, if this is the first time you’ve done this step-by-step you may be asking yourself, “Okay, but now how do I move??” and this is where the beauty comes in as you will now learn to move at your hips with your back straight – but that is a topic for another day.

Here’s what the approaches above would now look like:

MidlineStabilization                  MidlineStabilization

For now, the next time you are about to pick that bar up off of the floor or stick that perfect box-jump, keep in mind this principle of keeping the glutes and abs tight so that your spine is embraced keeping your back straight. By forming this habit over time, good form and functional movement will not only become second nature for you, you will also have developed sustainable strength in all areas.