The O.N.E. Exercise To Give You The Most Bang For Your Buck!

If you’ve ever woken up experiencing pain along the regions of your neck, mid-back, low back, knees or ankles, boy do I have an exercise for you that may help! It may not only improve these ailments, but may also increase the odds of keeping them at bay while also improving fluidity with your day-to-day activities & movement!

I’m a huge advocate of Gymnastic Bodies and to reiterate from my last post, I’m not affiliated with them in any way. I just believe it’s worthwhile for anyone who wishes for their body to not rot away as they age to seriously consider looking into what they have to offer.

During my training with their program, I came across a mobility exercise that I’ve implemented with my patients and the response has been overwhelmingly positive!

The name of this exercise is called the Jefferson Curl. For cautions & technique, I highly recommend reading Gymnastic Bodies’ article below, first. And for more specific instructions with the technique, this video from one of their licensed affiliates may assist, as well.

How Can This Jefferson Curl Be Good For Me?

Why Jefferson Curls should be part of your daily or weekly routine is because they assist immensely with better flexibility, strength & mobility along yourposterior chain.

What the hell is that? Your posterior chain is just fancy talk for the muscles located at the back of the leg, back and spinal spinal column consisting mainly of the calves, hamstrings, gluteus, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae & multifidus muscles. Keep in mind, your back has 5 different layers of back musculature, so there are plenty more muscles this will help with, as well.

One of the best parts of this movement is that it also targets joints that are needed for optimal movement, specifically the spinal, knee & ankle joints. Assuming anyone is actually looking at the joints appropriately, it may cause a scenario where one questions which came first? The chicken or egg? Should one focus on the joint(s), first, or the muscles? Maybe both?

Let’s Break This Down, like Charlie Brown, Shall We?

A commonality among the consensus is prolonged hours of daily sitting or constant neck-bending to look at our smartphones. This can create many issues that Jefferson Curls may assist with. In short, our spines were never meant to be flexed as often as they are today. And from there, it’s just a snowball effect which can dramatically reduce flexibility, strength & stability with your hamstrings, knees, ankles, shoulders, neck & back, among other regions of the body. And this doesn’t just apply to “desk jockeys,” either. There still can be immense compensation with the aforementioned in people on their feet all day or even mixed evenly with both sitting & standing on a daily basis. But it’s usually more often seen in those sitting for the majority of their day.

The reoccurring theme you’ll read with the specifics below is that with intended Jefferson Curl execution, you increase the likelihood of a higher threshold of how much demand your joints can take due to their cartilage & ligaments being strengthened & stretched appropriately along specific regions that are rarely expressed in routine day-to-day movements. Which then creates more fluent mobility & less tension in regards to moving around as one may desire to do so.

Spine

Many people experience some sort of spinal ache/pain in their life or some kind of degeneration or spondylotic effect as they age. In fact, one studyconfirms the presence of degenerative facet & disc pathology in older adults with more than 90% displaying some type of degeneration.

Jefferson Curls assist in the stable progression of optimal spinal mobility with more comfort and proper movement so as to potentially decrease the odds of spinal joint compensation from occurring. The excessive flexion of the spine (desk work) is addressed in this movement with strengthening erector spinae musculature and increasing fluidity during flexion. As a result, it provides more mobility so as to be capable of performing more proactive movements that may shy away from the downward spiral of degenerating joints throughout the spine & other parts of your body throughout the course of one’s demanding day.

While in the eccentric (stretched) portion of this movement, the shoulders also open up a bit, which may get the ball rolling with restricted shoulder mobility, as well. I’ll go over more specified mobility activities that may also help increase shoulder integrity in my next article.

Knees and Hamstrings

If your spine is constantly flexed or unstable, there’s a good chance your hamstrings and knees will most likely not be a big fan of yours, either. They will express their distaste by being extremely tight &/or difficult to move as you may like. Not only will your hamstrings be tough to work with, but it may also translate to knee issues, as well.

There’s no 1-size-fits-all to health. There are many strings that pull a lot of other physiological and biomechanical mechanisms. In regards to the knee, the hamstrings assist in keeping it stable. With this support comes a great responsibility in preventing knee-injury & pain! If your hamstrings aren’t working correctly, this can affect the alignment and integrity of your knees. With this in mind, the hamstrings are a great place to start, especially for the long-term, regardless if you have knee pain or not. And these Jefferson Curls help during your eccentric (stretched) movement when you’re stretched down to your toes. But it’s also strengthening your hamstrings once your muscles are contracted (flexed) on your way back up.

Calves and Ankles

If knees & hamstrings are tight, there’s a strong likelihood that calves and ankle mobility are also decreased and inhibited. One way to assess ankle mobility is to squat down to a position where your butt/toosh/gluteus muscles are as close as they can be to the ground for a few seconds, i.e. “Ass to grass”.

If your heels cannot stay flat on the ground, your calves will most likely be tight & your ankle mobility will be shit.

Again, with the same mechanism that enhances spinal & knee joint mobility, the same is also done with the ankle joints.

Though calf raises & Achilles stretches would be a more specified activity to potentially increase ankle mobility, Jefferson Curls are not bad place to get the ball rolling, as well.

For those experiencing some kind of issue mentioned above in our practice, it’s not uncommon to hear from my patients significant benefits compared to when they first came in with their issue(s). Though results do vary, with joints free to move as they wish means that you’re not as limited with moving and grooving as you’d like to when desired!

You get a stretch, you get a strengthening action and they are both coupled with increasing your mobility. How and why these all tie into another is that your core is another foundation for all movement, balance and coordination you act upon. If your core is messed up, the fire is lit with potentially increasing the likelihood of other issues to ensue and arise. You can’t walk, swim, crawl, sit, reach, sneeze, run, climb, carry or do much of anything else without a solid core! And these Jefferson Curls do wonders for your spine — the foundation of your core.

The benefits of this exercise seem almost endless. But the catch, in my opinion, is to reap the benefits of never having to address potential joint degeneration and/or immobility issues than having to experience them & then take more time, money & stress to resolve it/them.

As a word of precaution, please follow the protocol that GymnasticBodies has provided in their Jefferson Curl article I linked up. Slow & steady is always the best way to progress when addressing a new physical stress to your regiment.

When one has the luxury of controlling it, being proactive is far easier, less stressful & less costly than being reactive.

-Dr. Mo