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3 Stops, 1 Conclusion: Don’t Go Too “Super” on The P90X Superman Move

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably noticed a few extra posts regarding form and injury. I’m not trying to be the one-trick pony but you can blame it all on a nagging lower back tweak I’m enjoying thanks to some over-achieving P90X Superman moves (Core Synergistics) and their Asylum variation called “Swimmers” (Game Day & Back To Core). The injury took me out for a week and a half while I rested it and while hasn’t kept me away from my workouts this week but it’s still there– subtly pinching and twinging and poking. Kind of like your annoying niece/nephew.

And I’m not the only one… I was talking to a buddy of mine who was doing Crossfit (no comment) and sustained the very same injury doing the very same move. Two months later he’s still out of commission and as it turns out, has some slipped discs in his lower back. While that’s not necessarily from the Supermans alone, it’s a collection of overtraining and strain which caused the Superman core move to be a straw that, well, “broke” his back. Talk about a total fitness derail.

Lucky for you, our pain is your gain and I don’t want YOU to have to go through either of these frustrating experiences. I ,may have thought my form was good but apparently that wasn’t the case– so I went out in search of how to avoid the same injury in the future. All my stops came to the same conclusion:

First Stop: Steve Edwards

First stop, my favorite dude– P90X program designer Steve Edwards. In a recent chat, I asked what I was doing wrong or maybe if over training had come into play. His response– possibly both but here’s the takeaway:

“When doing Superman moves, try going long instead of high. Does that  make sense?”

It does. See, I was extending my back, trying to get my thighs off the floor and get as much height as possible. The correct form is lifting body off the ground but stretching your body out in a slight U curve, not a height defying back bend.

Second Stop: Voodoo

Second stop I made was with a trusted information/physiological training Guru I exchange ideas with regularly, codenamed “Voodoo”. He did some adjustments and put my spine into alignment (thank you!) and suggested my lower back sacrum/ilium tweaks could be from so much plyometric/jumping/back and forth movement (virtually all my cardio). He suggested so much of it might put wear and tear on the lower back so it’s a little more susceptible to tweaks when I do something simple but overextend in a move like “Superman”.

Since I was in my second month of Asylum, this kind of rang true– especially as I worked out with some slight discomfort and noticed at times my blower back was supporting the full impact of a jump where I wasn’t spreading the love by tightening my core.

Third Stop: BeachBody

In my chat with Steve Edwards, he advised I post up on the Beachbody Message Boards–  a place ripe with the who’s who of Beachbody and a great place to get real, educated and informed advice from Beachbody Principals. What I got there pretty much confirmed my previous two stops:

I would agree that you have put quite a bit of torque on your lower back arching up really high…and the Asylum version of this is very long in duration. Anytime you are in a superman position, you should squeeze the glutes, pull your abs away from the floor and as you have already discovered, go for length over height. Even though you are strengthening the lower back, we have to support it in a prone position.

I would strongly suggest getting a foam roller and focusing on your quads, adductors, piriformis, hip flexors, and IT band. This can assist in leveling stuff out.

Three stops– all the same conclusion: Form.

Things are on the mend but I’m still not at the 100% with lower back comfort I was just two weeks ago. I’ll get there I know but in the mean time, learn from my experience and keep those Supermans long, not high. 

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3 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. Jim says:

    I got the same injury Dan not long ago. Reading this made me see that I was not elongating like you described. Thanks for the solution you may have saved me a re injury.

  2. Karen says:

    Makes so much sense! Great advice!

  3. Noel Price says:

    I can see myself in a pretty big back brace by doing these wrong. That’s for posting

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