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6 muscles of the back are functionally different from limb muscles

Limb muscles create movement, torso muscles create stability.

The simple act of walking requires spine stability. There are no agonists and antagonists in the torso they are all required to stabilise force generated elsewhere in the body.

If your therapist treats your core muscles in the same way as limb muscles, they are simply going to extend the pain in your back

Elite performers generate force in their hips, and it is transmitted through a stiffened core.

Spinal Control: The Rehabilitation of Back Pain: State of the art and science
edited by Paul W. Hodges, Jacek Cholewicki, Jaap H van Diee

The twist. Is it deadly.

Several researchers have suggested that  twisting of the trunk is associated  with low back pain. the 1st issue we need to deal with is to distinguish  the idea of twisting  from generating twisting torque.

Torque  in the torso can be achieved  whether or not the spine itself is twisted.

In general moderate twisting isn’t dangerous. over the years the debates have included  twisting quickly and breaking the speed by hitting the end range of motion,  back in 1970, Farfan  suggested disc twisting  could damage  the collagen fibres  in the annulus, especially if a neutral arch had been lost.  Other reports say that twisting is less dangerous as the facet forms a mechanical stop , thus its the facets that can get injured.

What is  Twisting torque? Imagine a twist that applies or transmits force!.As no muscle  is designed (as a primary function),  to create twisting torque all muscles are  contracted, this increases compressive load. 50nm of extension, creates 800 newtons of spinal compression.

Generating high torque, when the  spine is twisted  is problematic. In short are you twisting… well, Ok!  or are you twisting through your spine to load up an axe swing … probably not so good!

Ill show you in a future “Note” how to generate force through your hips and not through your back. But for now, repeated spine flexion will, according to Aultman et al ( 2005), will lead to discogenic trouble.

“Back In the Office” campaign

While supporting any and all well meaning people who want to help back pain, I find myself at odds with one recommendation of the forth coming “back in the office” campaign promoted by the Charity Back care (6th -12th October 2014)

Whilst i endorse most of the aims of this campaign

  • Stand not Sit while you work
  • Stretch your back at your desk at least every half hour
  • Set your workstation just right
  • Ergonomic furniture, a hype or a necessity?
  • Use headsets and stop straining those neck muscles!
  • Take regular breaks especially if you work long hours
  • Employers guidelines

I think based on current research, that the “stretch your back ” suggestion, is probably  best  treated with caution

Stretching , twisting and cracking your back?

 

If you stretch twist and crack your back I have one message for you: pack it in!!

“Soft tissue injuries result from excessive tension, so excessive tension in the rehabilitation situation is counterproductive…stretching of …chronically tight tissue is counterproductive. It may give an initial sensation of relief because the muscle spindles have been deadened, but this practice…weakens the tissue further because of the weakened proprioceptive response.”

Boo Schexnayder

“stop trying to Stretch and mobilise! Let tissues settle and regain their proprioceptive abilities so they tell the truth”

Stuart McGill

Avoid extremes

Part of the programme we will teach you is to maintain a natural lordosis , most of the time, especially when squatting or lunging. However its possible to attempt to over engage  your lordosis and crush joints together. the flexibility for squats and lunges comes through the hips, not by excessively arching your lumbar curve. The mantra is “find the problem, fix the problem”.  If when squatting you find ankle and hip flexibility issues, do not compensate in your back.