For decades, we have been told that low back injuries occur with bending and twisting the spine.
In a recent article in Clinical Biomechanics, researchers looked at what showed more nuclear movement in the spine, comparing the two different spinal movements.
The intervertebral disc is arguably the most important structural element in the spine. It is designed to attenuate forces in compression through a hydrostatic properties deep within its core called the nucleus pulposus. The main make-up of the disc consist of proteoglycans that have an affinity to water. It is the number of proteoglycans that relate to how well the discs resist compression.
Rotation of the spine is often discussed and implicated as an injury movement especially when combined with flexion (bending forward). This was published in 1970 by Farfan as he believed this to be important…not to bend and twist.
In 1996 Cholewicki showed that both bending and twisting were coupled movements and difficult to separate the two.
Magnetic resonance imaging has allowed us to look into the spine with greater detail to help give us some practical take home messages. The study conducted in 2013 in Clinical Biomechanics gave us a better idea how the nucleus deforms. The greater the deformation, the more likely the spine becomes injured.
What they found was that it was worse to bend sideways than it was to rotate.
So, when you are lifting something, it is more important to minimize sideways bending rather than worrying about twisting. I know I talk a lot about bending forward, which we know is a number one reason why people injure their backs, but sideways bending is the second most important thing NOT to do….according to this MRI study.
TIP…..it is important to keep your shoulders and hips equal distance to each other (right hip to right shoulder AND left hip to left shoulder) and not move from side to side as much when you are exercising , working or picking up grocery bags. Spinal safety first!