The Single Arm Farmers Carry:
The single arm farmers carry is a great exercise that can be used to strengthen and re-balance the core and Quadratus Lumborum. By using this exercise to help re-balance your core strength, you can also alleviate low back pain or prevent low back pain all together. Strength, stability, balance and overall resiliency of the core is essential for not only basic functional movement, but also to avoid becoming predisposed to injury. ESPECIALLY lower back pain!
How To Perform The Single Arm Farmers Carry
- Start with a weight that is not too light but not to heavy either.
- a dumbbell, kettle bell, or suitcase filled with items all work well!
- While holding the weight in one hand, begin walking. Walking should be slow and controlled.
- Maintain a neutral spine, upright posture, and level shoulder with an engaged core during the length of the exercise.
- The goal is to maintain a straight and level torso
- Stop the exercise if you notice yourself beginning to bend towards the side of the weight (lateral flexion).
- Time yourself on one side.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
- If you find that you can perform the exercise for a longer duration on one side in comparison to the other, then, you have found an imbalance.
Begin training the weak side until you reach the point where you can perform the exercise for the same duration on both sides.
This exercise trains not only the entire core, but specifically the Quadratus Lumborum, which is a lateral flexor of the spine when acting unilaterally.
Single Arm Farmers Carry Vs Farmers Carry
The farmer’s carry, performed with weight carried in both hands, is undoubtedly a great exercise for targeting the musculature of the entire body as well as strengthening your core. However, like many other exercises performed bilaterally, it fails to diagnose imbalances. That being said, exercise routines should always try to balance bilateral movements as well as unilateral movements. This allows for imbalances to come to light and allows us to fix these imbalances and avoid injury.
Anatomy of the core:
- pelvic floor muscles
- transversus abdominis
- internal and external obliques
- rectus abdominis
- erector spinae (sacrospinalis) especially the longissimus thoracis
- lumbar muscles: quadratus Lumborum (deep portion) and deep rotators
- cervical muscles: rectus capitus anterior and lateralis, longus coli may also be considered members of the core group.
- Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius.
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Would this be advisable for a 43yo with, per MRI findings, partial disc collapse and desiccated disc L4-L5-S1 and mild facet arthrosis at those same levels? I’m just worried about compression in the lumbar region.
Thanks for taking the time to read the article. As you are not a patient of mine, I would feel uncomfortable recommending any particular exercise directly to you without proper examination and analysis. My recommendation would be to find a good sports doc, whether that be a sports chiropractor or physical therapist, who is properly trained in exercise and rehab therapy. This exercise can be a great addition to any individuals core program. However, it must be done with proper technique and form. Other wise it could become detrimental for someone with your history. If you need anything or have any further questions, you can call me directly.
Dr. Chad Rush
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Thanks for your video on farmers carry. I have mild scoliosis 20 degree Cobb mild S with lumbar concave side to right so my left ql gets painfully tighter as day wears on. Stretching it offers little relief. Can’t seem to get rid of muscle imbalance even though 50 plus pt sessions. Can farmers carry help and if so what side do you suggest? Seems like right side conks out first using a garden sprayer loaded with 2 gallons of water. Thank you!
Hi Fred! Without seeing you for a history and physical examination I cannot make direct recommendations for you situation because everyone is different and unique. If I were you however I may try farmers carries with a single arm with a certain amount of weight and compare side to side. I would evaluate the amount of time you can properly execute the exercise on each side. Typically what we would want to see is which side fails at a shorter amount of time. Then your goal may be to try to strengthen the weaker side until both sides can perform the exercise with the same weight for the same amount of time. Let me know if this helps! Again, this is not medical advice but simply what I might do if I were in this position. Sorry for the delayed response and best of luck! If you need anything you can email or call! Thanks! Chad Rush DC