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Learn to Stack Like a Snowman

Morgan coaching KB stack w Hanna

Learn to stack like a snowman….

The “stack” is one of the prerequisite positions to master in physical therapy or performance training. This position is essential for movements like squats, split squats, hip hinging and pretty much anything one might perform in the gym.

Think of the stack like a snowman. The 3 balls of a snowman represent the head (top ball), rib cage (middle ball), and pelvis (bottom ball). The goal of the stack is to center each of the 3 balls over one another.

The weight bearing surfaces of all 3 balls are larger when they are centered over one another. This means that the weight of the snowman is spread over a larger area (ie. less stress in each individual spot).

Now imagine that one ball starts to roll forward or backward. The ball above and below must roll with it to avoid falling to the ground and keep the snowman standing upright. This adjustment changes the weight bearing dynamics for each ball and more weight is now directed onto a smaller amount of space. This produces more stress onto these new weight bearing areas and may cause these areas to break down faster (think discs in our lower back).

This same dynamic happens in our body. As one of our balls (head, rib cage, or pelvis) rotates away from center, the other balls must accommodate. This places more stress onto the body as a whole and often results in discomfort.

Achieve the stack by practicing the following steps.

  1. Imagine that you are wearing pants with back pockets. Without bending your knees further, roll your back pockets underneath your body (you should feel your abs turn on)
  2. Without hunching over take a relaxed breath in, followed by a long and relaxed breath out. Feel your anterior ribs move down, back and in. Ensure that you can gently maintain this position while inhaling and exhaling
  3. Imagine that someone is standing behind you pressing hard down onto your shoulders. 

The stack can be a challenging position to master and integrate into your training routine. However it is often the secret to avoiding back pain with common activities in the gym. 

Contact us to learn other adjustments to common exercises that may become your hidden secret to overcoming pain and optimizing your performance.

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