…Or they may be dealing with Extension/Compression Stabilization Strategy…

What does that even mean? Developed through the network of Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) Dr. Pavel Kolar introduces a new perspective on intra abdominal pressure. Explained in great detail by Dr. Richard Ulm, the ECSS has been cued, coached and over performed by athletes so much now that it has become a chronic source of back pain and joint integrity.

The basic goal of all human movement is to maintain a neutral joint ankle while balancing muscle tension between agonist and antagonist. What we are now seeing in athletes at a young age is that they are being loaded past developmental thresholds therefore forcing the athlete to develop a strategy to stabilize and perform above their capabilities.

As explain by Dr. Ulm, this is a short-term solution to success. Here is an example of an athlete who came through our doors with chronic low back and pelvis pain. She was assessed by therapists in the past with no ‘injury’ to report but consistent pain. After analyzing her patterns and posture, this is the red flag we discovered:

This picture illustrates her Thoraco-Lumbar region about a quarter of the way down in an UNLOADED squat. You can visibly see the extension that her body is trying to create to stabilize the movement. Paraspinals and quadratus lumborum muscles are ON leaving her with the grove down her back. This is the ECSS, coaching cues such as chest up, push through your heels, arch your back, find your hamstrings, are major culprits in developing this pattern in athletes/individuals who do not possess enough stabilizing strength or who are unfamiliar with stabilizing techniques to avoid vertebral compression. She has effectively avoided using her abdominal wall for support and will consistently rely on this compression strategy until cued and coached otherwise.

Same athlete 3 months later after introducing and cueing proper stabilization patterns and helping her find neutral joint ankles during her fundamental movements.

This strategy is very easy to spot in movements such as the front plank or push up. Next time you have an athlete or client performing one of those, take a quick look at the lumbar curve and identify if the ‘core’ is really being trained properly.


Andrew LoCurto  BKin, CSCS, CPT