(After thinking over the previous title of this post, I realized that "There are NO absolutes" is a paradoxical statement, as "There are NO absolutes" is an absolute.)
Over the past few weeks, I've been experimenting with some trunk flexion exercises; floor sit-up movements (working on quality spinal flexion), some hanging curl-ups. These supposed death sentence movements have played out nicely for me personally. After a solid set of a specific trunk flexion exercise, I've taken a little shoulder pain and erased it from my senses. Along with improving overhead ROM and pressing technique, these trunk flexion exercises have also helped cleaned-up my overhead squat pattern and lunge movements... and I've felt better the last couple weeks than I have in a while. I know simple trunk movements won't directly improve certain athletic measures, but improving the coordination, flexibility, and neuromuscular and fiber strength of my trunk will impact, and has, the real work that does lead to better performance in these measures.
So, what does this mean to the anti-flexion ideology with regards to training the torso? It's not simply one or the other. With that being said, there are many athletes that I work with, that I would no way in hell have perform these movements; while there are some that I have and will.
Will repeated flexion cause some sort of disc/spine damage? Sure, as any REPEATED movement can. It doesn't mean some may not benefit.
The important thing as coaches is the ability to decipher what's necessary. Understanding movement, but be able to look, listen, and ultimately learn from each and every athlete. Each athlete is going to bring a unique difference outside of the usual 2 arms, 2 legs, a torso, head... you get the point. The idiosyncrasies of movement patterns, postures, and mindsets have to be considered. I agree with most coaches that an understanding of some sort of ideal is important, but not all shapes fit into perfectly round holes. Athletes have been adapting since birth and sometimes I think we have to accept there will be differences that we may not be able to change or may take years (structural and connective tissue adaptations). I've seen athletes with foot and ankle structures and motions, for example, that don't match for perfect ROM and scores on a squat or lunge test, yet are some of the best athletes I've seen with no injury. Not saying it won't happen, and maybe they can improve, but I am always questioning what's right. I've also seen athletes with exceptional "weightroom" movements who have chronic muscle pulls and joint issues.
Anyway, trunk flexion movements have been helping me lately. Some will say that scratching a scab feels good too, but doesn't make things better... but I feel pretty confident with what I am doing and I've gotten plenty of reasons/theories as to why this has been beneficial for me and I'd be more than happy to discuss.
Regardless, I just wanted to share these thoughts...