Pierced Navel’s: They Look Awesome, but they Kill Your Back

Every now and then we stumble on a little vignet of info that makes us seem that much cooler to the people around us, and if we were to show it off at a party, would make members of the opposite sex want to engage in reckless activities with us. Today, I would like to share one such earth-shattering bomb of knowledge with you, so that you too can use it to amaze and intrigue your friends and be the life of the party next time conversation spills over into core dysfunction. What? It could happen.

I briefly talked about this in one of last weeks posts, but I met with a client with low back pain and had her take out her belly button piercing to try to improve her cores’ function. It had a dramatic result, essentially allowing her to do a forward bend and get more than double the range of motion before spinal movement occured than when she had it in. So for today I thought I’d shed some light on this commonly forgotten little McNugget of core dysfunction knowledge.

I know this probably sounds like some sort of witches voodoo or Tom Cruise Scientology mumbo jumbo or that I’ve completely gone off my nutter, because quite honestly if there was ever a place to hang a bit of shiny metal that would improve the appearance of said hunk of flesh, it couldn’t be a better place. I mean, come on….


Huh?? What? Oh, sorry. I just sort a….



What was I talking about?

Oh yeah!! Piercings!! Sorry.

Let’s say we stab a piece of metal through the body. In any situation where a foreign body invades, it disrupts the fascial integrity of the structures around it, and starts to lay down new adhesive scar tissue around the area. This scar tissue gets all sticky and possessive towards everything it touches, sort of like a stage four clinger who has abandonment issues and wants you to call them EVERY 15 MINUTES!!!!

**Why won’t Alicia Keys return my calls? I know she’s gotten them, but why won’t she call back!!??

So when these additional fascial adhesions start to go all haywire they start affecting the function of the abdominal muscles around the area.

Namely, all of them.

Check this action out. This is a photo of the ventral aspect of the abdominal wall, from the center looking out. Betcha haven’t seen the abdominal wall from the inside out, now have you??

That little yellow highlighted area is the backside of the umbillicus, the fancy schmancy name for the belly button. It has some direct fascial connections to the rectus, transverse, and both internal and external obliques, the liver, the testes/ovaries and all sorts of different organs. It’s kind of like the cornerstone of the abdominal wall. When we look throughout the body, in any situation where there’s disruption of the fascial layers, the flexor withdrawal reflex causes the muscles being pulled on to increase their activity, and causes the reciprocal muscles (like the paraspinals, erector spinae, QL and other key offensive linemen of the back) to shut down or at least be limited. In knee surgeries the quads shut down and the hamstrings tend to tighten, leading to a specific rehab directive of getting the muscle activity back to normal. Ditto with shoulder surgery, abdominal surgery, and other fun things like that. Over time, this imbalance between flexors and extensors leads to some form of accumulated microtrauma from muscle imbalances. Sounds like a recipe for some tasty tasty back pain to me!! Don’t believe me? Too bad, it’s my blog, it’s epic, and I can talk about what I want. So nyeah!!! Just because it’s my blog and I can do what I want, here’s a pic of Darth Vader and the Predator about to throw down.

Any questions? Yeah, that’s right.

This is something that freaked me the hell out when I first started thinking about it, but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. I mean, I grew up as a clown-puncher lifting heavy shit, pumpin up the gun show, thinking belly button piercings were hot as hell, If you wanted to make the abs work properly you just had to do a thousand crunches and twists and heavy-ass deadlifts and all sorts of stuff like that, right?

Uh……… no.

There’s a butt-load of nerves, muscle and fascial tissue that all works on electrical signalling right below the belly button, and metal can conduct electricity away from those destinations, thus interfering with the abdominal signalling and making the core muscles work like a fat guy’s colon after scarfing a couple of Double Down’s. By putting in a metal belly button ring, it’s like holding a metal golf club on a golf course and wondering why your ass gets zapped by God’s fury over your last double-bogey.      Seriously, use a sand wedge once in a while, ya hump!!

Still don’t believe me? Check this shiznit out.

And then look at this wicked awesome map of the energy meridians in the body, and look at how many of them converge on the belly button.

I’ve done assessments on clients where I show them their spinal range of motion with the piercings in and then again with them out, and in 99.995% of the times (maybe, I don’t keep track) their ability to do a forward bend increases when the piercing is out. Their strength and endurance through extension increases hyooogely!!! And their spinal stability also goes way up, meaning even if it’s not the cause of their back pain, it definitely isn’t helping them out or doing them any favors.

When we add something foreign to the body, there’s a reaction to it, whether it’s a good reaction or bad reaction depends on where it is, what it’s made of, and what it’s purpose is. For the most part, metal objects will interfere with electrical activity within our bodies. I’d love to see a study done where EMG activity is compared between abdominal muscles before and after removing a navel piercing (you hear me out there, Bret Contreras??).

Let’s say you’re getting some low-level low back pain, and you have a belly button piercing. Try switching it for a ceramic or glass model, or just remove it altogether and see what happens. I know when I took mine out it made me feel so good, but now my man-kini just doesn’t look the same.

About deansomerset

Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Post-Rehab Specialist, personal trainer and probably the coolest guy my mom knows, I try to impart a little knowledge with a sense of humor to keep people reading. I've always thought if it's something that can grab your attention, you're gonna remember it tomorrow!!
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One Response to Pierced Navel’s: They Look Awesome, but they Kill Your Back

  1. I hear you loud and clear!

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