Other/Mixed Jefferson Curl - Purpose? For whom? and incredible soreness...

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)
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PeterLuffman

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I tried J-curls today, unweighted, and experienced pain on the way down.

I guess its advisable to not proceed? Or perhaps to use the partial ROM before pain for now?

For context, I've got a chronically tight QL that is always angry and tightens up under load, enough to prevent me from doing swings or DL for many years now.

The J-curl looks like it would be good for me, but I'm not sure if I'm ready. What do you think Pavel?
 

Pavel Macek

Level 9 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
I tried J-curls today, unweighted, and experienced pain on the way down.

I guess its advisable to not proceed? Or perhaps to use the partial ROM before pain for now?

For context, I've got a chronically tight QL that is always angry and tightens up under load, enough to prevent me from doing swings or DL for many years now.

The J-curl looks like it would be good for me, but I'm not sure if I'm ready. What do you think Pavel?

Peter,

- pain = question for your Doc, my friend
- after that, FMS
- after that, deadlifts, swings
- after that, partial J-Curls, unweighted, done correctly (as we teach at StrongFirst RESILIENT)
- after that, full J-Curls
- after that, partial and full weighted J-Curls

Note: Some folks' spine is flexion intolerant - not all exercises are for everybody.
 

PeterLuffman

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I've been down the Dr route, seen many chiropractors, physios, osteos, massage therapists etc over the past 3 years. Nobody can seem to tell me what's going on. It's extremely frustrating!

My FMS score is good, all 2 and 3's.

Ok thanks Pavel.
 

Pavel Macek

Level 9 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
I've been down the Dr route, seen many chiropractors, physios, osteos, massage therapists etc over the past 3 years. Nobody can seem to tell me what's going on. It's extremely frustrating!

My FMS score is good, all 2 and 3's.

Ok thanks Pavel.

Pain changes everything. I hope you will find the right Doctor, who will be able to help you brother. Keep me updated!
 

Jakob Olsson

Level 1 Valued Member
The purpose of the J-Curl is working spinal stability through it's full range of motion.
It's an mobility exercise, so focus will always be on ROM on not strength. It's an effective loaded stretch for the posterior chain but as i stated, the purpose is building up stability in the spine. J-Curls are safe if you use the correct approach (and form) and respect the body's inherent capability to adaptation. That process can't be speeded up.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
A nice web page, IMHO, on the Jefferson Curl:

The Jefferson Curl: One Exercise for Full Body Mobility

It's described as "weighted mobility" and I think that's a good description.

Pain changes everything. I hope you will find the right Doctor,
Absolutely. Find a doctor now, or scale back the way you're doing the exercise so that it doesn't cause any pain, and then work into it gradually.

It's an mobility exercise, so focus will always be on ROM on not strength
I do not agree. The process for most people will be to use a very light weight and aim for a full range of motion. At that point, some people will be able to add weight and, provided it doesn't cause pain or injury, they may do that. So it starts as a mobility exercise but it's really a strength-and-mobility exercise, and the focus will not always be on the ROM past a certain point.

My lower back doesn't like to bend much but I have good hip and hamstring range of motion, so here is a Zercher Deadlift


I end up with my shoulders at or below my knees, but by pushing my hips back and getting my thighs parallel to the ground and then rounding my upper back. The Jefferson Curl is not for me, but the Zercher DL is.

-S-
 

Jakob Olsson

Level 1 Valued Member
First of you have not understood the Jefferson im afraid, you say your lower back doesn't like to bend. In the lower face of Jefferson you should move from the hips to protect the lower back. It's an mobility exercise to start articulate the spine. It sounds to me that your t/c spine does a poor job in that articulation face and let your lower back take up the slack. Jefferson used in concert with many other helpful movements to get proper functioning restored is achievable with the correct approach.
 

Glen

Level 6 Valued Member
Steve I'm like you, very stiff lower back which does not move well in extension or flexion (no issues just just spent a long time keeping it rigid in powerlifting).

You say JC is not for you but I'd the back stiff because you don't do things like the, JC. Not questioning you directly as such but rather musing as it's the same point I'm at - I want potentially opposing things - better at powerlifting with a rock solid trunk but as a pilates instructor I want to be able to move better to demonstrate better. It's a conundrum as will a more mobile lowerback lead to less performance on the platform as proposed by Stuart Mcgill etc?
 

Pavel Macek

Level 9 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
Steve I'm like you, very stiff lower back which does not move well in extension or flexion (no issues just just spent a long time keeping it rigid in powerlifting).

You say JC is not for you but I'd the back stiff because you don't do things like the, JC. Not questioning you directly as such but rather musing as it's the same point I'm at - I want potentially opposing things - better at powerlifting with a rock solid trunk but as a pilates instructor I want to be able to move better to demonstrate better. It's a conundrum as will a more mobile lowerback lead to less performance on the platform as proposed by Stuart Mcgill etc?

@Glen , please check out the explanation, whys, dos, don'ts, and for who here > StrongFirst RESILIENT | StrongFirst
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
To add to what @Pavel Macek has said above, some of us own a doctor's diagnosis of a "flexion-intolerant" spine. I am one such person.

That said, I am now 22 years post-injury, and I think a little long-term personal injury history may be helpful.

I didn't do any back stretching except the McKenzie exercises (all are passive extension exercises, nothing active, nothing in flexion) for the first 9 years after my injury. I can do some of them now, but it took those 9 years for my back to get to a place where I could. As time has gone on, I'm able to do more and more, but I also know what I cannot do, e.g., I cannot ride a bicycle for a long time without adverse consequences - that sort of lengthy, relaxed stretching of the lumbar spine will cause the connective tissues in my lower back and my lower back muscles to relax, and I will tell you that it feels fantastic once I get off the bike - until all the nerve-related problems start to appear a few hours later.

I couldn't do the windmill exercise for a long time - tried it, had back problems, put it away, and it was probably the third or fourth time I came back to it, probably two years after my first attempt, until I could do a windmill. It's still a problematic exercise for me that demands I perform it within strict tolerances, but I am able to do that, and I do.

There won't be any Jeffserson curls for me just yet, but I will never say "never" to the idea.

-S-
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
It sounds to me that your t/c spine does a poor job in that articulation face and let your lower back take up the slack.
We do not diagnose based on what things sound like to you, sir, nor do we recommend Jefferson curls on a similar basis.

-S-
 

Pavel Macek

Level 9 Valued Member
Master Certified Instructor
Another note: StrongFirst RESILIENT Special Course features step-by-step progressions for all exercises for all levels of athletes (all those who have mastered the basics with reasonable weight - think "Simple" standard from S&S).

Speaking of J-Curl, we start with:

- unweighted and partial variation
- progress to full and unweighted
- then to partial and weighted
- and finally to full version.

As in all other StrongFirst RESILIENT, not all progressions are for all people, but - everybody will reap a huge benefits from the easier variations and progressions. In case of J-Curl, some people get only to partial and weighted variation (targeting neck and upper back/T-spine) - all good!

We have uploaded short video example of the partial J-curl:


Apart from step by-step progressions, the manual features also an additional article about J-Curl and similar exercises. It is very easy to do wrong, so we made sure to make the "dangerous" exercise perfectly safe. When done correctly, it "spreads the load" throughout the whole body, especially the posterior chain - it is NOT just lower back stretch, at all.

Unless you are a highly competent athlete, know your body, and know exactly what you are doing, don't do it. I have seen many bad (and heavy) J-Curls - disaster coming soon. On the other hand, if you do it correctly, and are very patient (which means adding just a small weight every few weeks, or even months), it is a great, great exercise.
 
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