Reverse Hyper for Back Pain Relief

If you’re suffering from back pain, you’re not alone. Seventy-five percent of the population will experience low back pain at some point in their life.

backpain_banner Strength.comIf you’re suffering from back pain, you’re not alone.  Seventy-five percent of the population will experience low back pain at some point in their life.  The pain you experience is likely due to either a disc irritation, inflammation, or a herniation.  No matter what condition you are in, consistent use of The Reverse Hyper™ will help regenerate your body and decrease the symptoms you are experiencing. It is an overlooked machine, and yet, it’s one of the most effective and safest methods to rehab your back, prevent injury, and to build strength through range of motion.

It was first invented by world-renowned power lifter and founder of Westside Barbell, Louie Simmons, back in 1974.  After breaking his back in 1973, doctors recommended he undergo a surgery that would leave him missing two vertebrae and fusing part of his spine.  Instead, Louie sought out alternative methods for his treatment turning to acupuncture, stretching, and performing a reverse hyper exercise that was the only exercise, that at the time, caused him no pain.  In 1994, the Reverse Hyper was patented and as of 2016, there are now 5 current patents.

There are a few different iterations of the Reverse Hyper patent and lots of variation with the machines, but even so, all of them work the same.  You’ll likely see two different set-ups for your feet: a roller system, which mostly activates your spinal erectors, and a strap system that targets your glutes and hamstrings. Some tables lie flat while others may also tilt 15 degrees forwards and backwards.

What does it do?

  • Prevents and treats disc injuries by therapeutically loading, training, and strengthening the muscles, ligament and tendons of the posterior chain.
  • Enables the healing process by increasing circulation.  Discs are avascular meaning that there is no direct blood flow to them.  They get healing nutrients through a process called diffusion that occurs when the low back muscles (i.e. psoas complex, erector spinae, glutes) get pumped up with blood.  This movement also will get cerebral spinal fluid and lymphatic fluid to the discs that will help eliminate waste products. This process is necessary for healing.
  • Tractions and decompresses the lower back/spine and opens up the joint space on the forward swing phase.
  • Restores the natural motion of the hips and the sacrum.

How is it done?

  1. Load the appropriate weight, then step your feet into the straps or place your feet between the pads on the roller attachment.
  2. Jump up onto the pad so your hip bones rest on the pad and the pivot point (end of the pad) should rest near your femur head, then grasp the handles with your hands and flex your lats to hold your position.
  3. Begin the movement by flexing at the hip and swinging your feet under the machine.
  4. Reverse the motion by squeezing your glutes and extending your hips as you pull your legs up, pausing just below parallel. It’s important to note that you should not bring your feet up too high. They should never be level with your hips as this will cause hyperextension of the low back.
  5. Return by flexing the hip and bringing your feet forward.  Continue through this range of motion of arching (contracting), then relaxing (stretching) for the desired number of repetitions.

Performance Tips:

  • Start out slowly and be cautious.  Although the reverse hyper is a very safe and effective exercise, your weak and injured low back may not be used to moving in such a manner. Repetition, consistency, and proper movement will help you eventually achieve a normal full range of motion.  This said, you may struggle in either the forward swing phase or extending your legs to full extension. It’s recommended to start with a short range of motion and as you get warm, gently increase it.
  • Control the movement throughout the whole range of motion.
  • Activate your forearms and lats, which will help transfer energy from the hands down  down through the arms, back, glutes, and core.
  • As your lower back moves from extension to flexion, the rest of your spine/neck should stay neutral.
  • Keep a journal.  Take notes each time you perform this exercise.  Record any symptoms you may be experiencing, the load (weight being used), the number of reps and sets performed, and your range of motion.  Then look back and see if you are making any progress.

When to use it?

Use it in your warm up, before heavy lifts like a deadlift or squat, during your workout, or afterwards.  In other words, just use it!  A good starting point for rep schemes and loads are on strength days try 4×10 @50% of your 1 rep max back squat.  For restoration purposes try 4×15 @25% of your 1 rep max back squat.

Helpful Resources:
“Therapy, Westside Style” with Louie Simmons and the Reverse Hyper
The Reverse Hyper with Louie Simmons