Many of the exercises we were taught twenty years ago have now been proven to potentially cause injury in vulnerable people. The four exercises I described above that this gentleman was doing are perfect examples. When he bent over from a standing position to reach his toes and stretch the back of his legs (hamstrings) and lower back, the entire weight of his upper body was being held in a vulnerable position by the joints and muscles of the lower back. If the joints in his lower back were already previously stiff or their mobility was restricted, forcing them to move farther than they can comfortably go can injure them. In fact, this is exactly what happened to this gentleman. He felt that his back was slightly stiff and he therefore decided to stretch it by reaching for his toes. He did not have the potential mobility in his lower back joints to accomplish this. It was then that he experienced the onset of sharp pain in that region.
Along those same lines, rotating his upper body in a circular pattern in order to stretch his back will repetitively compress and stretch open the joints in his lower back. Because he
did this exercise while standing, the weight of his upper body also applied acompressive force to the same joints. Particularly in the spine, rotational andbending motions combined with compressive forces can seriously irritate the joints. They can become inflamed and restricted in their movement. If severe enough, the neighboring nerves can become irritated. These nerves control the muscles along the spine and can be responsible for very painful muscle spasms. This is why doing a similar rotational movement with your head, particularly at the point when your neck is bent all the way backwards, can also cause acute joint inflammation, nerve irritation, and muscle spasm of the neck.
To stretch your lower back in safe rotational manner, lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then, straighten out one leg and leave it on the floor. If it is your right knee that is still bent, use your left hand and pull the right knee so that your lower body rotates to the left. Your shoulders must stay flat on the floor. Hold this stretch for ten seconds and then repeat on the opposite side.
Instead of doing rotational movements with the neck, it is safer to do static stretches to the left, right, and forward.
Instead of doing full sit-ups, a much safer technique is to do“crunches” and only lift your shoulders a few inches off the floor. Because I can only explainso much through written text, if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to email me at landrumdc.com or visit my website http://www.landrumdc.com.