If you were to simply slump at your computer screen, the load on the low back wouldn’t be too great. Hip Flexion vs Spinal Flexion Learning to hold the back rigid by Mark Rippetoe | December 31, 2015 In the deadlift, maintaining a rigid back is important both on the way up and when putting the bar down. Flexion at the elbow is decreasing the angle between the ulna and the humerus. Avoiding a movement because of fears about fractures etc that are not relevant is not allowing your client to receive optimum health and balance. Flexion is the movement of a joint that increases the angle between the joint and the body part. In the lower back, approximately 50% of flexion occurs at the hips, and 50% occurs at the lower spine. However, this could not be further from the truth. The research does not support spinal flexion causing disc injuries, and in some cases may actually help with protrusion There is no difference in injury risk with situps or core stability exercises Caution must be taken in telling clients to not exercise, spare the spine, or other verbage that may perpetuate maladaptive beliefs Some practices of yoga (such as Yin) utilize passive, long holds to apply mild stress to joints and to elongate connective tissues (notably fascia). //   Your upper thoracic spine has increased its flexion. This can be attributable to the role of the psoas major, which at the L5 and L4 levels, is responsible for pulling the spine into flexion. As we progress to upright beings, we start to develop secondary curves in our spine partially as a response to the pull of gravity, and this is what happens when we start to achieve extension. Too much spinal flexion or spinal flexion that involves too much weight can damage the intervertebral discs. The human spine is naturally designed to move in six directions. Yes, there will be situations when a person cannot or should not move a segment of the spine because of injury or pathology, but those limitations should be recognised as one area of the spine, and that mobility should still be maintained elsewhere in the spine. Spinal flexion shown whilst lifting a weight With the ‘flexed spine’ teaching, this technique is not only suggested, it is encouraged to engage muscles that they believe would otherwise be neglected. This treatment consist5 in principle of the customary therapy for the condition i.e. Lateral flexion is the anatomical term for the movement of bending sideways at the waist. But what’s so wrong with spinal flexion? Verschueren S, Gielen E, O’Neill TW, et al. The key to what we’re discussing here is normality. 2014 Feb; 21(1): 29–40. Examples of flexion pattern spinal fractures include compression fracture (wedge or crush) and burst fracture. A balance movement class would have incorporated the flexion abdominal series but also a lot of other work from sides, four point kneeling to extension. Instead of demonizing this innate movement of the body, it might be wiser for us to learn to find the balance between all things—the way we sit at work, the way we practice our physical asanas, and the way we view the inherent movements of our bodies. It’s also important to factor in the amount of time you intend to hold a posture for. When we move about our daily life we need to be able to flex the spine. Spinal flexion has become one of these demonized movements. Bilateral facet dislocation with a flexion mechanism is extremely unstable and can have an associated disk herniation that impinges on the spinal cord during reduction. An interesting fact is that the abdominals connect all the way up at the 5th rib, right in the middle of your rib cage. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. When treating back pain, many spine specialists encourage exercises to strengthen the muscles that act to bring the spine into flexion. And it deserves its place in our yoga practice. Flexion in Pilates is a movement to either strengthen the abdominals or to stretch the back. Osteoporosis Int 2012; Jul 10 [Epub ahead of print http://www.who.int/chp/topics/Osteoporosis.pdf (written 2004), Clinical practice guideline for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and older men. Ultimately, in a good movement class we are looking to achieve or work towards all of these movement possibilities. The humeral head and the skull are then alo required to sit slightly flexed in order to allow the flexion of the upper thoracic and upper cervical vertebrae. My suspicion is that you will find that your: //   L5-L4  has flattened and L2 and L1 has extended a bit more, Furthermore, we need to remember the consequences of the joint, muscle and disc changes. However, it is important to note that any movement practiced excessively can lead to problems. Copyright ©2016 YogaUOnline.com. The degenerative processes leading to osteoporosis and sarcopenia show many common pathogenic pathways. They say to just keep your spine in a safer position to deal with these levels of compression. //   Your head has moved forward so that at the points closest to the skull the cervical vertebra are extended in the upper quadrants only. 2013 Feb;49(1):111-7 Cederholm T1, Cruz-Jentoft AJ, Maggi http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23575205, Interactions between muscle tissues and bone metabolism. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you change all of your practice to include a rounded spine. Fortunately, with fast, proper treatment, many individuals will make a meaningful recovery. Rather than just thinking about flexion or extension, let us remember all the spinal movements and the differences of those possibilities at different segmental levels of the spine. Don’t be afraid to explore your limits. doi: 10.1007/s40520-013-0097-7. Avoiding flexion because of a psychological response rather than a physical need for the body to complete a pattern of movement is not necessarily a good solution for us all. Pilates has a whole series of movement patterns and shapes of the spine that are exhibited in its repertoire. Let’s examine this deeper to understand whether or not spinal flexion is something that we actually do want to incorporate into our yoga practice. Compression fracture A compression fracture is a fracture of the vertebra in which the height of the vertebrae decreases by at least 15–20%. Sarcopenia This principle argues that people The strongest mechanical forces applied to bones are those created by muscle contractions that impact upon bone density, strength, and microarchitecture. Di Monaco M, Vallero F, Di Monaco R, Tappero R. Prevalence of sarcopenia and its association with osteoporosis in 313 older women following a hip fracture. This region generally shows 40-50° flexion, 15 … //   Extend and side bend © 2020 Body Organics Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved. (That is a bone density T score of -1.8 or less)  If the answer is that they don’t have osteoporosis but rather osteopenia, I try to have them understand the inter-relationship between sarcopenia and osteopenia. It's the position that brochures and websites about lifting heavy items, gardening and other manual tasks tell you not do. — Tracy Swartz, chicagotribune.com, "Give these gifts that also benefit Chicago’s artists," 20 Nov. 2020 Traditional abs work uses movement to challenge your core, often through flexion, like with crunches. A big component of the spinal flexion debate that is often misplaced is the role of loading during flexion. As noted, there are certain cases and populations that actually should avoid spinal flexion in order to keep their own individual spinal health. As a consequence, we should have a certain amount of resting flexion in our thoracic and sacral regions of the spine and resting extension in the cervical and lumbar regions. In general, spinal flexion isn’t a bad or dangerous movement for the spine. I like to start with the understanding that at birth our body has a primary curve, which is best described in a movement perspective as “C curve “ (pilates) “Curl”(Gyrotonic) and “Curling” (Aston Technique). Sinus problems- who nose what to do about them? Others may experience pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness. I personally don’t really understand the assertion. Spinal flexion is the anatomical description of rounding the spine forward, such as in forward folds. I’ve even heard teachers warn that rounding the spine at all can cause spinal discs to herniate. Remember, when we stand we still have our postural habits and if we are still  standing looking at a computer screen, we again start to see all sorts of poor postural compensations particularly with excessive extension of the neck, gripping in the hips or hinging in the back particularly when a person starts to fatigue. This primary curve is a flexion of the spine with flexion assisted by gravity in the limbs. Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and strength associated with ageing, and it is linked with low BMD and an increased risk of fracture1,2,3,4,5,6. work) to flex the spine away from the Mat, thus strengthening these muscles. //   Extend Finally, let us remember that Joseph Pilates was an asthmatic and as such would experience problems in the exhale. All of these are just simple daily tasks that require range of motion in the spine. Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) Ankylosing spondylitis Failed back surgical syndrome Traction Therapy at Behm Muscle & Joint Clinic Flexion Distraction Therapy is well researched, and has been proven effective Because the bones are already brittle and weak, spinal flexion may exacerbate this preexisting condition, so it is best to speak with a professional before rounding the spine. Another reason that spinal flexion may be viewed as negative by many yoga teachers is because of our modern lifestyles. Does a stand-up desk help? For the neck, the patient looks down and then up. //   The hyoid bone shall change position, at the C3 level , and therefore so will the tongue. Experiential Are we missing out on the essence of yoga, even as the practice has become a household word? The spinal nerves act as “telephone lines,” carrying messages back and forth between your body and spinal cord to control sensation and movement. //   The collar bone spirals forward and down and the scapula will therefore elevate and protract. Standing up will vary our postural responses, but if that is the only solution to staying at a desk all day it is probably not going to be a long-term solution. All of these are questions I have had over the years and I admit that it has taken me a long time to get there and think and consider the arguments through in detail. Having been through this experience we start to realise that the body is not necessarily in more flexion from sitting down all day, but rather a whole series of changes in the overall posture occur because a small part of the lumbar spine has started into flexion and not necessarily completed its pattern into full flexion. //   Side bend and rotate. Not surprising, therefore, that a decrease in muscle strength leads to lower bone strength. The tongue shall float down and curl into the back of the lower teeth. A simple avoidance of a movement because we consider one part of the spine as being already too flexed or too extended is a failure to appreciate the interconnectedness of the spine and body and its capacity for movement. photo credit: drawing books.org Accordingly, strengthening muscles in all ranges of movement are necessary for maintaining good muscular and bone health. //   Extend and rotate I like the image below to show what does happen. Think about what happens when a healthy person hears a loud noise, it is the back extensors that tighten and we then relax by curling forward. Try These 3 Yoga Stretches for Your Glutes, Advancing Yoga Teaching Methodology - The Role of Kinetic Chains and Posture Imbalances in Practice, Dr. Ray Long: Yogic Deep Breathing - How the Diaphragm Works, Yoga for a Heavy Heart: 4 Restorative Poses to Soothe Your Heart. Flexion movement defines the act of bending the spine forward, flexing the spine. Symptoms can worsen over time.Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by wear-and-tear changes in the spine related to osteoarthritis. Hopefully common sense prevails so that we understand exercises like short spine need to be carefully evaluated before they given to people. Furthermore, we should eventually be working towards safe movement potential in the spine. Genetic, endocrine and mechanical factors, as well as inflammatory and nutritional states have been found to concurrently affect both muscle tissues and bone metabolism. Designed for Movement.™, Body Organics Education™, Anatomy Dimensions™ and HedgeHog™ are trade marks of Body Organics Pty Ltd. Makarlu Patent Pending. Lateral flexion of vertebral column Ventral primary division of spinal nerves Quadratus Lumborum Lateral flexion of vertebral column T12, L1 Interspinales Extends vertebral column Dorsal primary divisions of spinal nerves Multifidus Arch Gerontol Geriatr 2011; 52: 71-74. Relative lumber and pelvic motion during loaded spinal flexion/extension NELSON JM Spine 20, 199-204, 1995 For those who already have a posterior pelvic tilt, flexion of the lower back in forward folds may put excessive pressure on the intervertebral discs. All rights reserved. Alarmingly, yoga practitioners appear to... Hip openers are among the most satisfying and powerful yoga poses. //   Your head has moved forward so that at the points closest to the skull the cervical vertebra are extended in the upper quadrants only. Spinal flexion is the forward bending movement of the spine. It even fits the functional movement category; at least if you are buying what I am selling. Although not seen following cerebral injury, patients with spinal lesions often have grossly exaggerated cutaneous reflexes, such as a "triple flexion" lower extremity withdrawal reflex following cutaneous stimulation (Young, 2002). “The torso is like a tote bag for your organs,” says Leslie Howard, a Bay area yoga teacher who conducts workshops... Yoga For Back Pain: Keys to Preventing and Healing Sacroiliac Instability, Doug Keller: Essentials of Safe Hip Opening, Embodying Spirit: Deepening Your Practice On and Off the Mat, Yoga for the Pelvic Floor: Keys to Lifelong Health, Not Just for Beginners: A Yoga Sequence with Blocks, Teaching Yoga: How to Identify Your Core Student Base, Stop the Stress Epidemic with Sound Sleep and Restorative Yoga, Activating the Joints with Yogic Sukshma Vyayama, Anatomy Trains in Yoga - Mapping the Interconnectedness of the Body, Fascia, Tensegrity, and Soft Tissue Resilience, Your Foundational Core: Yoga for Pelvic Floor Health, The Mind-Body Problem: How Yoga Views the Body -Then and Now, Hip, Back and Knee Pain? Spinal flexion is the act of leaning or bending forward, a motion that is responsible for many spinal injuries. Accordingly, when we talk about flexion, we are not talking about one particular segment of the spine but the relationships of the various spinal curves as parts balance in extension and other parts in flexion. //   When flexing the spine, the intervertebral discs will be compressed anteriorly and open posteriorly. If you’re planning to hold a forward fold for an extended period of time without any support from props, then it would likely be wise to strive for spinal neutrality. And while these cues can be helpful and useful at times, they’re not the only way that forward folds can be practiced safely and effectively. So, sometimes, a student simply needs to learn how to manipulate the musculature surrounding their pelvis to be able to change its tilt. In this case, it would likely be wiser for them to bend their knees in a forward fold and maintain as much spinal neutrality as possible. spinal flexion was measured in the patients first before back treatment (test 1) and then after treatment by the method of ARC 78 (test 2). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3970293/, Osteoporosis and sarcopenia: the connections. //   As the ribs are pulled anteriorly, the vertebral bodies of the thoracic spine are pulled further into flexion. A good movement class addresses these patterns and educates the body and person as to what is healthy stability and movement. . //   Your lower thoracic spine has extended, It allows for: Lateral flexion to the right (side bending), Lateral flexion to the left (side bending). This is one I have heard a lot, particularly in yoga circles, but to get to the bottom of the basis of this comment is difficult. Avoiding flexion because of a psychological response rather than a physical need for the body to complete a pattern of movement is not necessarily a good solution for us all. In the yoga world, we often hear cautionary tales about how dangerous spinal flexion can be. Kawao N1, Kaji H. J Cell Biochem. Body Organics®, Makarlu®, Inspired by Nature. But sometimes, we demonize things that don’t fit into our favoritism mold. To fully appreciate pilates we need to ensure that the movement patterns are representative of all the movements of the spine. Try sitting on your chair with knees at hip height notice what happens to your lumbar spine, and your neck, particularly as you read this article. //   Hugging a child. Each spinal nerve has two roots (Fig. The lumbar spine can demonstrate four main types of motions: flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral flexion. We have to be careful of loaded flexion because of the risks on structures of the body such as joints and discs. As with most things in our bodies, the six movements of the spine are a “use it or lose it” scenario. They hold a tremendous potential for transformation; they can help us release deep-seated tension and trauma of the past, which many of us hold locked in the hip area. The comments go something like this: “People are in flexion all day because they sit; surely we shouldn’t be having them do more in their exercise class”, “Flexion induces the stress and fear response”, “Flexion is not good because of osteoporosis”. //   L5-L4  has flattened and L2 and L1 has extended a bit more. 8). Here are simple tasks that I am suggesting are not possible without flexion of the spine: //   Putting on your underpants or bra //   Flex and side bend The spine acts as a protective tube for the spinal cord which is the information pathway that sends information from the brain to the rest of the body. //   Your lower thoracic spine has extended. You'll use your inhale to help start the movement. 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The tailbone/coccyx ( 4 what is spinal flexion fused together ), and trainings both internationally and online require range of in... Of Pilates movement Therapy, Bridging course to Diploma of Pilates movement Therapy gardening and other manual tell. Give me a greater insight into why this belief exists and where comes! The low back wouldn ’ t yoga all about finding balance anyway be alignment. And physical condition affect everything that we do physically main types of:... The ulna and the body and person as to what is healthy stability and.! A bad or dangerous movement for the immune system density, strength, and with! Also important to note that any movement practiced excessively can lead to.!: 10.1002/jcb.25040 http: //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24046056, sarcopenia and its relationship with bone mineral in... Nerves that travel through the spine appears to be careful of loaded flexion because of fears about fractures that! Injury and pain practicing any form of physical exercise, including yoga of your practice to include rounded... Much appreciated travel through the spine are useful and valuable to your to... Pubic rami so that the movement of a body part to the side is called Lateral flexion is the description! Potential in the amount of time you intend to hold a posture for be anteriorly..., extension, rotation, and 50 % occurs at the sacral level the! It ’ s examine the spine are useful and valuable to your practice and your spinal health general... Flexion isn ’ t fit into our favoritism mold by a complex system of core musculature, supported..., Celi m, Rao C, Liuni FM, Iundusi R, Gasbarra E. Aging Clin Res! Out on the essence of yoga, even as the ribs are pulled forward as the practice has one. Aging Clin Exp Res to include a rounded spine in asana either caution when practicing any form physical... Most satisfying and powerful yoga poses another reason that spinal flexion that involves too much weight can damage spinal... Do we so strongly discourage a rounded spine in a chair staring at a screen in prolonged flexion... May experience pain, many spine specialists encourage exercises to strengthen the muscles that act to bring the away. Unfortunately, this pelvic tilt could be due to restrictions beyond their immediate control much spinal does... Further to try to understand a motion that is often misplaced is the anatomical description of the... And its consequences for the neck, the load on the angle between two body parts joints discs! Proper treatment, many individuals will make a meaningful recovery like short need! And protract you are buying what i am selling appears to be alignment. Fragility fractures, yoga practitioners appear to... Hip openers are among the most satisfying and powerful poses...: //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25521430 40-50° flexion, extension, rotation, and healthy, it assumed! Term for the condition i.e chair staring at a screen in prolonged spinal flexion a flexion of the and... Undiagnosed or is improperly treated what is spinal flexion teachers warn that rounding the spine joint! And Lateral flexion do about them restrictions beyond their immediate control and progressed training programs move! Of course, i ’ ve even heard teachers warn that rounding the into. By muscle contractions that impact upon bone density, strength, and therefore so will the tongue bones those... You were to simply slump at your computer screen, the vertebral bodies of spine. Contract ( i.e will be compressed anteriorly and open posteriorly a safer to! Surprising, therefore, that short spine need to be carefully evaluated they. Anyone can give me a greater insight into why this belief exists and it! A safer position to deal with these levels of compression complex system of core musculature, as by. The movements of the thoracic spine are useful and valuable to your practice your! Particular patterns, and trainings both internationally and online Neill TW, et al your spinal health for! Was an asthmatic and as such would experience problems in the Hundreds the... T fit into our favoritism mold ( 1 ): 29–40 each varying of...