Creating Internal Tension For A Back That Will Never Break

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This article on creating internal tension for a back that will never break comes from my over 2 decades of working with clients with “bad back”, “slipped disc”, “back went out”, and the numerous failed back surgeries that I have seen. Over the years I have tried numerous approaches to back pain, including:

  • chiropractic adjusting
  • soft tissue therapy
  • McKenzie Protocol
  • cupping
  • McGill big 3 exercises
  • stretching
  • core strengthening
  • postural restoration
  • shockwave therapy
  • electrical muscle stimulation
  • ultrasound
  • rest

The one thing that I have learned, is that every client responds differently. While chiropractic adjustments might fix client A, they don’t help client B at all, who responds better to soft tissue therapy. While client C doesn’t respond to any type of hands-on therapy, but does much better with core strengthening exercises.

Regardless of what treatment approach seems to get clients out of pain, the one staple that everyone needs is the ability to create internal tension. What is internal tension? It’s the ability to create stiffness in the core of the body. But what is the core? I define the core as all the muscles that connect the armpits to the knees! I know what you’re thinking, isn’t that a lot of muscles? Yes it is! But the truth is, that even foot and head position have a significant effect on body position and therefore are important for creating internal tension.

Why is Core Stiffness a Good Thing?

There are 2 types of stability in the core: active and passive stability. Passive stability is what the bones of the spine provide. The spinal segments and the discs that connect them, provide a stable base for the extremities to be able to create movement. Relying too heavily on this passive system can eventually lead to spinal degeneration and disc breakdown (bulging, herniation).  Both spinal degeneration and disc injuries are typically painful and cause the sufferer to seek care in the form of medications, physical therapy, chiropractic care or surgical intervention. Active stability is provided by the muscular system and its associated tendons and fascia. The better the active system is at providing stability, the less stress you get on the passive system (spine and discs).

The major role of the spine is to provide a stable base for the extremities to push and pull on to create movement of the body. If we can provide a strong and stable spinal base, then motion can be efficient with the least amount of stress on the passive system (spine & discs).

It’s obvious that core stability is a very good thing when it comes to avoiding back pain and issues. But what is the best way to create this internal tension for a back that will never break?

Creating Internal Tension

There are a number of exercises that we can use to create internal tension and create core stiffness/stability. I will grade them into 3 levels, with each level becoming progressively more difficult to master. Please reach out to us at BTF on how to perform these exercises correctly, as there any many nuances that can make them much more effective!

Level 1-

Push Crunch

Glute Bridge

Front Plank Progression

Side Plank Progression

Level 2-

Quadraped Donkey Kick & Firehydrant Sequence

Hip & Shoulder Cuff 3-Way Circuit

Hip Hinge with Bilateral Upper Extremity Reach

Split Stance with Bilateral Upper Extremity & Trunk Rotation

Level 3-

Barbell Deadlift

Landmine Squat to Overhead Press

Roman Chair Back Extension

Dip Bar Knee Raise

Each program we design is customized for each client and includes how many sets, repetitions and loading to perform. If you would like professional guidance on how to perform spine rehabilitation exercises correctly to create internal tension for a back that will never break, please contact us at Back to Function. One of our highly skilled doctors can guide you safely and effectively on the road to feel, recover and perform better. Please call 310-534-1900 or email to schedule your assessment today!


Dr. Chad Moreau
About Dr. Chad Moreau

Dr. Chad Moreau is the President of Back to Function, a sports chiropractic office dedicated to providing elite quality care for athletes and athletic-minded clients. He is Certified in Postural Restoration by the Postural Restoration Institute. His positions include: Chiropractic Consultant for the University of Southern California Athletics (2020-2022) & Team chiropractor for the Los Angeles Kings (NHL) from 2012-2020, Los Angeles Dodgers 2017-2019 and the Los Angeles Lakers 2020. He can be contacted at