Monday, May 8, 2017

Spinal Flexion vs Extension Motions

"Neutral" or "Functional" Spine Position is the position where Minimal stress is placed on discs, ligaments, and muscles.  Spinal discs rely on normal spinal motion for nutrition and repair since no blood vessels reach inside of the disc.

Extension positioning and motions:
  • Posturally you have normal cervical and lumbar lordosis, or concavity posteriorly.
  • Increasing extension produces
    • Increased stress of facet joints
    • Decreases size of intervertebral foramena (possible pressure on spinal nerves)
    • Tends to cause forward slippage of vertebra on the one below (spondylolithesis)
    • Tends to unload intervertebral discs
    • Tends to move nucleus pulposis anteriorly
    • Prolonged extension of the spine produces facet and other posterior structures pain

Flexion positioning and motions:
  • Posturally we have normal thoracic and sacral kyphosis (convexity posteriorly)
  • Increasing flexion produces
    • Increased stress on intervertebral discs
    • Decreased load on facettes 
    • Increased disc load
    • Tends to move nucleus pulposis posteriorly
    • Increases opening size of intervertebral foramen

Prolonged Flexion of the Spine is caused by forward head for cervical flexion,  forward bending and posterior pelvic tilt for lumbar flexion, sitting and working postures, and lifting objects with a rounded back.

*****Please note I will expand on these topics, how it relates to fitness, and what it means to the average person as I continue developing this blog!  Some of these early posts will have content about 2 things: scientific background information to help understand structures or pathologies, or modalities and why a therapist would choose to use them.  Later I will discuss how to utilize this information to improve performance, but first it is important to understand some context!

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