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Health and Wellness

Stability is important, but you need to be flexible FITNESS

BE FLEXIBLE By Nick Bohanan

owling is a sport that utilizes both strength and agility, which means you can’t for- sake exercises that keep your joints fl exible for exercises that focus on strength. If you focus on one over the other, pain won’t be too far behind! The body is an alternating pattern of joints, some designed for stabiliza- tion and some designed for fl exibility. In bowling, upper-back fl exibility and hip fl exibility go hand in hand. Your lower back is designed for stability. If you are too tight in either your hips or upper back and you can’t rotate as easily as you should, the tendency is to compensate with your lower back. The lower back is de- signed for bending and extension, so when you start rotating with your lower back that’s when you feel pain. Golfers run into this problem fairly often. Because there is so much torque and rotation of the spine, any tightness in their hips will cause them to shift that emphasis to their lower back.


Athletes too often focus on core- strengthening exercises to combat

lower back pain. No one will argue that strong core muscles are im- portant, but in this case it’s only half the battle. The root of lower- back pain is usually joint tightness either above or below it. If you don’t work on the fl exibility in your hips and upper back, the pain will return to your lower back regard- less of how strong your core is. If you want to keep your lower back healthy, keep your hips and upper back as fl exible as possible. Upper-back exercises are benefi - cial because shoulder fl exibility aids in a free backswing. Hip fl ex- ibility aids your stride and fi nish. Both take pressure off your lower back.

Upper-Back Flexibility Lay on the fl oor on your left side with your left arm straight out. Bring your right hip up and over at a 90-degree angle. This will lock your hip and lower back into place. Slowly bring your right arm back and try to touch the fl oor with the back of your hand. This ex- ercise will give you a nice stretch through the chest. All of your rota-


FLEX PLAN: Click on the play button (above) to view USBC Sports Performance Specialist Nick Bohanan demonstrate exercises to add hip and back flexibility.

tion should come from the upper back. This works the area between the shoulder blade and lower back. It strengthens, but mostly increas- es, fl exibility.

Hip Flexibility

This exercise is called a kneeling stride. Start by kneeling on your right knee. Keep your heel on the fl oor and push your knee out in front of your toes. This will stretch the hip fl exor in the leg with the knee touching the fl oor, and a bit of a stretch in the glutes as well.


You also should stretch your hamstrings. Lying on your back, put one heel up on a medicine ball or bowling ball and try to drive your heel into the ball. As the ball begins to move, try to keep it in place with your heel. You’ll feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. To add diffi culty, swing your other leg to add hip fl exibility to the exercise.

— Nick Bohanan is United States Bowling Congress Sports Performance Specialist.

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