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Myth Busters! Does Having a Flexible Spine Prevent Injury?

April 18, 2017 in Articles, News
Posted by Jason Arnett
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Whether it’s that back pain only affects older people {myth}, people that are unfit {myth}, or that all cases of back pain result in surgery {myth}, there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to the health and function of our lower back. Another common misconception I hear from many of my patients is that increased flexibility in the spine helps to prevent low back pain and injury. Today’s goal is to debunk that statement!

MYTH: Having a flexible lower spine prevents low back pain and injury
REALITY: Mobility in the upper extremities and in the lower extremities are critical in low back injury prevention

Our spine is not meant to be flexible in the same capacity as other parts of our body. The spine needs to be flexible enough to assist us with 6 categories of movement:

  • Squat/lift
  • Push/pull
  • Walking/running/carrying
  • Balance
  • Lunge
  • Twist

As long as your spine allows you to complete those tasks – i.e. open a door, stand up from a chair – you have all the flexibility you need! You see, just as the spine requires flexibility it also needs to stiffen and remain in a neutral position to carry the weight of our body from point A to point B.

SO WHAT’S THE POINT?

The point is, you don’t need flexibility in your spine - you need flexibility in your extremities. To decrease the likelihood of injury and improve function and performance, you want your lumbar spine to be stiff and remain neutral. Try these 3 exercises to increase your flexibility but keep your back safe!

3 Ways to Get the Flexibility You Actually Need

1. Arch and Sag:
-- With arms and legs  on the floor, arch your back into a half circle, and then pull your lower back down toward the floor until it’s ‘sagging’. Repeat 10 times.

2. Bird Dog:
-- With arms and legs on the floor, stretch out your right arm and left leg, place back on floor. Stretch your left arm and right leg- place back on floor. Repeat 10 times.

3. Goblet Squat:
-- Stand holding a light kettlebell or dumbbell and then squat down between your legs, using your elbows to drive your knees out. Repeat 10 times.

If you’re experiencing low back pain, or want to prevent low back pain while improving function and performance, schedule an appointment with Jason or a Physical Therapist at VTFC to begin your fitness journey! 

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