5 Great Movements for Reversing Extension Postures in Athletes

By Eric Cressey, MS, CSAS

One of the biggest mistakes coaches make in training young athlete is just treating them like they’re adult clients. Obviously, this line of thinking is incorrect for a variety of psychological, physiological, and biomechanical reasons, but perhaps none stands out as more significant as their different postural demands on a daily basis.

Adult clients spend a big chunk of their days sitting in flexion, and often need more extension – especially through the thoracic spine – in their daily lives. Many trainers are, as a result, terrified of including any flexion-based core training in their programs.

Conversely, kids spend a ton of time standing and moving around. When combined with athletics, you realize that the majority of young athletes absolutely live in extension.

If you take this same flexion-aversion to a young population, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to help them. Why?

Flexing from an extended position toward “neutral” is different than flexing from “neutral” position toward end-range lumbar flexion.

With that in mind, we incorporate a ton of flexion-bias exercises with our young athletes to get them out of extension. Here are five of my favorites:

Suspension Trainer Deep Squat Breathing with Lat Stretch

Bench T-Spine Mobs

All Fours Breathing/Belly Lift

Back-to-Wall Shoulder Flexion

Bear Crawls

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of the exercises we’ll use with athletes who are in a heavily extended posture, you can definitely easily incorporate these five movements into warm-ups with young athletes with great results.

Taking it a step further, I include both extension-bias and flexion-bias 16-week training programs as options in The High Performance Handbook. This versatile training resource provides a glimpse into how we program for our athletes at Cressey Sports Performance, and includes 2x/week, 3x/week, and 4x/week programming options that are derived from a preliminary easy-to-apply self-assessment. Click here to learn more:

How would you like a quick and easy-to-apply – but very effective – self-assessment component to add to your training program? The High Performance Handbook gives you the tools that you need to personalize each and every program. Featuring over 200 exercises, each with a 30-120 second coaching tutorial and over three hours of videos that will give you everything you need to become a High Performance Coach, long after you’ve completed the program!

We all know the importance of Nutrition with any Youth Training Program. Dr. John Berardi’s High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide will give you everything from menus, recipes, nutrition application to the eye-opening expose on all of the chemicals in our environment and how you can take steps to limit exposure and improve health!

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