I have a client who is kyphotic as well as slightly swayback whose physical therapist has prescribed roman chair back extensions. Personally, I think those exercises are for advanced exercisers and as a pilates instructor as well as personal trainer, I’m sure my client is more likely to end up with low back pain. Any comments?
Dr. Stuart McGill is an expert in the field on Back Health. He advocates minimizing lumbar flexion under load for the majority of people due to the pressure on the discs. I would suggest looking at his work to determine safer methods to exercise and access ALL core musculature, not just the Rectus Abdominus–it seems to me that there are safer and better ways to work the core than the Roman Chair (depends on the client, and their level of fitness as well). Please take a look at his website: http://www.backfitpro.com/ as well as his books for evidence-based information. Page 232 in his book, “Low Back Disorders” addresses the usage of the Roman Chair and other machines and equipment. I bet you could find some information on the use of the Roman Chair and it’s efficacy/safety in this and other writings.
I tended to have swayback. I have done exercises on the Roman Chair for over 16 years. I have never been injured from the exercise and feel that it has given me strength and stability.
Yes, it is a rather aggressive exercise and should be approached with some caution, and perhaps some prior less demanding lower back work. With clients, I may use it as part of a progression or periodization program.
I have to agree with Shawn! Here are two great articles that were recently released in the IDEA Fitness Journal regarding the topics of Swayback posture vs. lordosis and appropriate program design:
If you don’t have access to these articles drop me a message and I can send them to you through Fitness Connect.
The primary reason that I do not select the Roman Chair for the majority of the population is because of the fulcrum (pivot point) of the machine. Many people don’t consciously think about how much additional force is required to extend the spine as the fulcrum (in this case the resting pad) moves towards the feet. Rather than move the resting pad forward (towards the head) many people just swing themselves up, thus using momentum, which negates the original intent of the exercise. Additionally, I’ve experienced problems with clients that have blood pressure issues. If inversion is something they’re not accustomed to, I would also stay away from the chair.
Honestly, a Swiss Ball or a BOSU™ Balance Trainer (dome side up) will do the trick. There’s not quite as much gluteal activation with these pieces of equipment but you can make subtle adjustments to compensate for that. Not to mention- It’s a heck of a lot more comfortable :o)
Hope that helps!
swayback is an anterior displacement of the hip with a posterior tilt, lordosis is a anterior pelvis tilt. If you are indeed talking about swayback then it is safe, if you are talking about lumbar lordosis then I would have to say build up to that movement by first loosening the hip flexors activating the intrinsic core and get the glutes firing.
I agree, that that movement is pretty advanced.
I noticed in your comments that you too are a pilates instructor. I received my training and certification through STOTT Pilates. One of the things that I appreciated very much about the STOTT Pilates approach is their emphasis on pilates programming based upon one’s posture.
Do you think it might be a good idea to suggest movements that involve supported extension of the thoracic spine and gradually progress the movement when her patient, is strong enough to perform more advanced exercises?
Hope this is of help.