A lot of what we hear about our spine and back is focussed on lifting objects, or when we have sustained an injury. How often have you heard “keep your back straight”; “shoulders back”; “head up”; “turn on your core” when it comes to your spine? Consequently, when injured or experiencing back pain, we usually adopt this upright extended back posture not wanting to bend forward, rotate, or side bend. This is a protective mechanism and is a normal process where the body braces and muscles contract, aiming to protect itself from further injury. A necessary response in the context of an injury, both not a long term behaviour one should adopt.
Although these postural cues and bracing strategies may be helpful when lifting a supper heavy object, if taken out of context and maintained excessively it may reduce your function and movement, decreasing our quality of life.
So, how can the spine move?
One of the main functions of the spine is to enable flexible motion. Whether that be flexing forward to tie your shoe laces, extending up when laying on your belly, rotating around to look over your shoulder, or bending to the side to catch a ball; each of these are natural and safe movements which allow us to live and enjoy our lives.
So how should you move?
Well it depends… Think of our body movements as tools to complete a task. Just like using a spoon to cut a banana may not be the optimal tool, so too is excessively “bracing your core” to pick up a pencil. Times where bracing would be the right strategy could involve heavy lifting or carrying.
The tool should match the task, and so should your movement.
Adopting regular exercise which focusses on developing a wide variety of movement patterns can be a great way to improve the health and function of our spine.
If you are not too sure what this involves why not schedule a free 15 minute chat with one of our Exercise Physiologists.