When your back is hurting, it often hurts to bend forward, or backwards, or sometimes even both.
But I’m often asked by patients, ‘what’s most important when my back is not hurting – a good range of movement when bending forward or when bending backwards?’.
Well, both are important for different reasons, but if I had to choose, I would plump for having a good range of movement bending backwards – especially in the lumbar and thoracic areas.
The reason is to do with walking. Do this: while standing up, place one leg in front of you as though you are taking a long stride. Observe how your lumbar spine has to bend backwards to allow this (if it can’t, then you fall forward). The longer the step, the more the lumbar spine has to bend backwards to allow it.
Now, imaging what would happen if you gradually lost the ability to bend backwards. This stops you taking long strides. Gradually you shorten your gait to adapt. This places more strain on hips and knees. You can’t run or even jog properly anymore.
Avoid this by making sure your lumbar area can bend backwards well, either through treatment by your practitioner, or via exercise – or both.