Have a bad back? Drag a sled - Here is how

Have a bad back? Drag Sled

I currently am 10 years into coaching others in CrossFit and before this became my profession I helped coach some athletes in college, and a common theme comes up from those that are young to those that are older - I have “bad” back or even my back aches, or my back hurts. This is probably the number one “injury” that gets mentioned when we ask people about their physical shape before starting with training.

This nagging pain is hard to escape, it isn’t like a shoulder issue where you can train legs or a knee issue where you can train upper body - the back is involved in everything.

So how can you fix it or work towards fixing it? I have had a lot of doctors tell me that walking is the best thing you can do to fix a “bad” back. But after listening, reading and implementing different approaches - it seems there is a better fix than just walking and provides a lot more “bang for your buck.''

What is this exercise you ask?

Sled drags- super simple exercise - can be done a variety of ways and completed at home.

The set up is fairly inexpensive(here are some links for $100-200 you can get outfitted with a sled and a belt - https://www.amazon.com/shop/oregoncrossfit?listId=3QBLJ03XMDSEI), pretty simple to learn and implement) If you want to do it yourself here is a video how: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAIme8sEHeo

How to sled drag -

Take the sled and connect it to your belt and then “overstride” walking heel to toe(opposite of your run technique). Once the heel touches the ground “pull” with the rest of the foot, this works the hamstrings, glutes, low back, abdominals(core), and calves. This technique seems to work great for most people. The sled drag does not work the same if you do not connect it to a belt. Use a belt! Another technique is “backing up” with the sled constantly “falling” against the sled this tends to work the quads to a greater effect. Here is a great example and tutorial of power walking with the sled: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkocMvoxc5E

How long, how often?

Depending on your experience and training level I recommend you train with the sled 3x a week. The first session go the heaviest and complete 6 trips. The trip length should be 60 meters.

Day 1: 6x60meters(heaviest weight)

Day 2: 8x60m (medium weight)

Day 3: 10x60m (lightest weight)

These could be done on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Option 2:

Day 1: 12 trips x60m(heaviest weight

Day 2: 14 trips x60(medium weight)

Day3: 16 trips (lightest weight)

How much weight?

The loading is going to vary depending on the individual - A typical man might start with sled + 45# plate + 25# plate on Monday, a 45# plate and 10# plate on Wednesday and on Friday just the 45# plate. The loading for a woman might be 45# plate on Monday, Wednesday use a 35# plate, and on Friday a 25# plate. If you start and you feel like it is too little weight just add another plate.

3 things to avoid -

  1. Letting your ego get the best of you - I will see men load the sled up with 3x 45# plates and walk on the balls of their feet the entire time - this won’t work and doesn’t help your posterior chain at all.
  2. Not using a belt - use the belt it works significantly better for your glutes, low back and hamstrings Not applying enough force on the sled on the first trip as the last trip.
  3. Each trip should resemble the first trip when you were fresh.

How long until it fixes everything?

Sled drags work but it is not a miracle cure - it can be a piece to the puzzle of making your back solid and have less trouble along with a multitude of other things. The best part of the sled is that anyone sitting at home can get set up and start seeing the benefits.

If you were going to add in some other work with the sled drags - what would you do?

I like to utilize the reverse hyper, the ATP(belt squat machine), Inverse Curls, Hip quad machine and kettlebell work in combination to work towards a healthy and solid low back.

Want to know more about how to train with a “bad back”? Schedule a Free Consult and see how we can help.


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