Do you have pain with lumbar flexion? Were you told that for the sake of your spine, keep it braced and neutral during all activities? If you feel confused on what is safe for you and are afraid of doing the wrong thing for your spine I want to clear a few things up for you and hopefully give you a little more direction and confidence. In todays post we dive into this lumbar flexion vs neutral spine debate to show you what you should and should not be worrying about.
We need to look a little closer at this “anti-flexion” movement and break the important things down to their most fundamental layer. I am a big advocate for neutral spine work and awareness but we need to stop scaring people into thinking anything outside of neutral is bad.
I am a BIG fan of Stuart McGills work, in fact I spent the first couple of years of my chronic pain battle studying as much of his work as I could. I completely gutted my workout and life and did a complete audit of everything I did from flexing my spine to how much time I spent sitting. I did all the things the “McGill way” but I eventually hit a wall. I spent a good year and a half testing and refiguring my “McGill Way” after it had seemed to “stop working”. No matter what I did or what I changed something in the back of my mind was telling me something wasn’t right. I was convincing myself that nothing outside of a neutral rigid spine was safe for my body. From a mechanics standpoint this made total sense but from a mental standpoint it was wreaking havoc on my mind and body.
I was at a crossroads.
I have learned so much from the McGill method but something needed to change. Something just wasn’t working. After about a week or so of doing absolutely nothing I started researching what is known as the biopsychosocial model of pain. I started reading strength blogs like www.barbellmedicine.com. Where they take the emphasis away from everything being so mechanically based when it comes to low back pain and gives the chronic pain more space to experience movement the way the body was designed (with a healthy dose of lumbar flexion).
Now, with all this being said I passionately believe the spine is designed and wants to bend twist and extend freely. I believe there are a number of factors that have brought us to living with these fears of movement to the point where people experience tangible and painful symptoms when they go to bend, twist and extend. Which makes total sense why people would error on the “neutral spine” position being the optimal choice in EVERY situation.
So what should you do? Is it good to flex the spine or should we maintain a neutral spine as much as possible?
In todays video topic we are going to dive into this issue and give a few resources for how you can start doing whats best for you. I cover a few different topics in this video so be sure to check out the comment section of the video on YouTube for the links that are super important! I will also share them in the post below!
I will be the first to tell you that I lived in fear of flexing my spine due to the not only the pain I would experience but chronic stiffness I would experience for 72+ hours afterwards.
I was pretty bad but it was due to believing that spinal flexion was bad and that having a stiff rigid trunk and a neutral spine is the best way to protect the back from more pain and future injury. Well, that’s not entirely true. In fact if you believe the spine is best kept in a neutral position then I would highly suggest reevaluating your plans of recovery because you wont get through this life without eventually bending your spine.
There are two sides to this spinal flexion vs neutral spine debate. One side says our spines are meant to flex , bend and twist. That they are strong and can handle the stress and and strain The other side says to focus and strive for a neutral spine with everything you do. I see value in both but can’t come to favor one side over the other.
I mention some of his top books at 6:50 and wanted you to have direct access to having them for yourself.
**BEST OF STUART MCGILL BOOKS**
- Back Mechanic
- Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance
- Gift of Injury
- Article on my TOP BOOKS for low back pain relief
- How to teach yourself to flex the spine without pain or flair ups
Where are you at with flexing the spine vs keeping a neutral spine? Do you error on the safe side and stick with neutral 100% of the time or do you search for opportunities to flex the spine in a safe and controlled environment?
Let me know your thoughts below!
P.s: If you want to be more confident in the way you move and use your body to promote healing and a more active life. I would highly suggest you check out what we are working on inside my F4BP Private Membership.