Did you know that the average person will flex or bend forward 3 thousand times per day? In contrast to bending forward the average person will extend or bend backwards only 100 times a day. That is a 30 to 1 ratio of forward bending to backward bending. This creates a large discrepancy between the two motions. The real question is, does this matter? The short answer is yes; it does matter, but let’s look a little closer!
For simplistic purposes, let’s look at the spine as being cut in half. The front half and the back half. Now, we can correlate these two halves to each designated motion. Bending forward loads the front half, and bending backwards loads the back half.
As we load the front half by sitting, bending forward, or tying our shoes (think of all the ways our spine bends forward throughout the day) we are unloading the back side of the spine. The repetitive flexion unloads the back side of the disc, over and over and over again.
Over time, when the back half of the spine is consistently unloaded, it becomes difficult or even painful to begin to load the back end of the spine.
What happens if an individual has difficulty or pain with backward bending? That individual will typically avoid the motion all together. Avoidance thus, creates a larger discrepancy between bending forward and backward and promotes further asymmetries. The good news is, these asymmetries are reversible. Asymmetries such as the one described above promotes poor spinal health. The spine operates and is in its healthiest state when it is able to load the front half and the back half equally!
The solution to the asymmetries is extending or backwards bending more, achieving end range of motion extending and monitoring the amount of forward bending versus back bending through activity modification and posture awareness. The goal I tell my patients is to try and lower the ratio of forward bending to back ward bending to 5:1 (versus 35:1). This loading ratio should create better spinal biomechanics thus creating less pain.
The Oakford Group has been established with an objective to promote a healthy spine through education and innovative therapy products. The Invertabelt was created to promote proper spinal loading strategies to improve spinal biomechanics, reduce asymmetries and promote proper spine health.