Research has shown that a flexed spine increases the pressure within the intervertebral discs, which are the cushions, or spacers located in between the bones of the spine. When this happens repetitively or for prolonged periods, the outer fibres of the disc weaken and break. The result can be a swollen or irritated disc – a disc bulge. Worse, the gel-like nucleus of the disc can eventually push through the weakened fibres forming a disc herniation. Prolonged flexion also requires the muscles of the lower back that run adjacent to the spine to hold a lengthened position. This is known to be highly fatiguing and injurious to muscles and can lead to various degrees of muscle strain. What’s more, when we initiate movement into extension to regain a neutral position, these pre-fatigued muscles then have to contract strongly and often fail, leading to additional force on the lower back joints, called facet joints, causing a lumbar sprain.
It is possible to have a neutral spine when performing all activities, including the ones listed above. You must be aware of your spine’s position and make appropriate positional changes. For the above examples you can attain neutral positioning by:
- bending from the hip and knee instead of the back to help your baby
- kneeling or sitting on a low gardening stool to pull weeds
- placing a pillow behind your back when seated
Once your spine is in neutral, it is important to maintain a neutral position. This is where we often run into trouble as we get side-tracked with our tasks and lose focus on our body’s position. But more often, muscular imbalances, such as a weak core, decreased hip mobility, weak shoulder stabilizers, or a combination of factors, prevent us from having the muscular capacity to maintain a neutral spine throughout the day.
An assessment by a chiropractor or physiotherapist can determine what is hindering you from being able to maintain a neutral spine as you operate your body throughout your day. Our team of practitioners at Choice is always ready and willing to help – just give us a call! 1-902-240-0903