P90X, or Power 90 Extreme, is an intense, 13-week exercise program gaining popularity among those seeking to get fit fast. Many people experience great results with this exercise program, but it is important to be cautious when starting any new physical activity. The strength and flexibility demands of P90X can result in back pain for those who do not already have a high level of fitness when they begin the program.
P90X comes with 12 DVDs that focus on strength training, cardio and stretching. The program can be individualized by selecting the rotation of DVDs that supports your workout goals.
Internet forums are full of people asking for advice on avoiding back pain during P90X. The following exercises are identified by many as the main causes of back pain.
Ab Ripper X
This 15-minute workout is performed 3 times a week. It includes a number a exercises designed to build your abdominal muscles fast. Many exercises that focus on the abdominal muscles cause back pain by creating strain in the lower back.
One exercise in particular performed during Ab Ripper X can create tremendous strain on the lower back and hips: the Fifer Scissors. The exercise entails leaning back on the floor with your back slowly off the ground and your legs in the air doing a scissor kick. The weight of your legs creates resistance in your abdominal muscles, building strength. The abs are also working to hold your upper body off the floor.
When your legs are in the air, your hip flexor muscles and not just your abs are working hard to hold them up. The hip flexor muscles pull on the pelvis, forcing it to tilt forward which increases the arch in the lower back. This can cause significant strain to the muscles of the lower back.
See the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftk8ZtAcTsg for a tip on reducing pelvic tilt during the Fifer Scissors exercise. In general, it is a good idea to tailor Ab Ripper X to your individual needs, performing less repetitions at first, pausing the DVD when needed and eliminating exercises that cause pain.
The Draya Roll is an exercise at the end of the Core Synergistics segment of P90X. You can see it performed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOb3RLgZOgc . This is a very high-intensity workout that, according to many reviewers, can not be done at first. The strength required to push your body from a sitting to a standing position is provided to come primarily from your core. This presupposes a lot of core strength; when that strength is lacking, you'll likely find that you bend at your lower back to push your upper body forward and get the momentum to push upward. These strains the lower back muscles.
Many people report leaving this exercise out completely until they have advanced in the program and developed significant core strength. If lack of strength requires that you alter your form in order to perform an exercise, it is best to leave the exercise out until it can be performed correctly.
YogaX is part of the P90X program. While this may sound like an easy and relaxing component, it is full of poses that only advanced yoga practitioners could pull off. One of these is the plow position. From a shoulder stands, you lower your legs over your head to the floor until the top parts of your lower legs are on the floor and your knees are next to your head .. This requires tremendous flexibility of the spine and the muscles and ligaments from the lower back to the neck and shoulders.
Attempting to do the plow pose your first few times with YogaX can result in muscle and ligament strains through your upper body due to overstretching. Many other yoga poses require strength that you may not have at first. Respect yoga as a form of exercise and do not go into it thinking all positions are attainable at first.
Muscle strain is the main danger to your back during P90X. If you continue overexert, you risk damage to your spinal joints and discs as well. Tailor the workout to your needs, and do not attempt to keep up with the video's instructor at first. Take your time, pause when needed and eliminate workouts that create excess stress on the back.