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Maintaining Neutral Spine During Low Back Exercises

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You’ve started exercising as part of your low back rehabilitation – sit ups, squats, bent leg raises, etc. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for the safety of your back to perform these with the correct form. It is vitally important to maintain neutral spine during exercises and in everyday life. The discs in your low back are compressed during these exercises, which can cause disc fatigue.

Neutral spine refers to keeping your back straight, not curved in any way. Exercises done improperly, (seated rows, bent-over rows, deadlifts, back squats), as well as everyday movement patterns allow the lumbar spine to become flexed (think about sitting over a desk). Over time, the repeated lumbar flexion leads to lumbar spine pain syndromes due to abnormal joint movement and disc changes. A common dysfunction is the inability to shift the buttocks back and to hinge from the hips; flexing from the lumbar spine.

An excellent exercise to retrain proper hip-hinge mechanics is the ball squat. Simply stand feet hip-width apart and straight ahead with a physioball behind you against the wall. Squat to no more than chair height, rolling down the ball and ensuring the hips hinge and buttocks glide under the ball. We’ll show this exercise to you the next time you are in the office, if you’d like.

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