Normally this phrase is used to mean something a little bit different – today I am meaning it in the literal sense – yes seriously, we are talking about bending backwards and we are talking about it relationship to back pain and tightness.

Many people have developed a fear of bending backwards – like it’s something we weren’t designed to do, or maybe it’s that we spend so much of our time bending forwards that we just don’t think about bending backwards? I’m not sure where it all started but it is prevalent. When I go to an exercise class most of the time it doesn’t include back bending exercises, I have to say, I feel kind of weird leaving those classes, like I’m out of balance or something. It’s like doing leg day and only working the quads but not the hamstrings or on arm day only working the biceps but not the triceps – it’s just strange!

It was one of my Pilates trainers that first taught me about the importance of bending backwards – I’d never really considered that we don’t do it much before that, but that was my glass shattering moment – once you see, you can’t unsee! I’d personally had some back issues and was initially very scared to bend backwards – because it hurt! However he educated me that it might actually reduce my back pain if I give it a go, and it did! I’ve recently done more training (yes there is a course you can do to learn about bending backwards!) in the art of bending backwards so now I feel like I know enough to write about it and encourage the general public to perhaps give it a go.

The potential benefits of bending backwards

  • Pain reduction (do this under care of a properly trained McKenzie practitioner if you have back pain or leg pain that concerns you. Sarah is trained in this technique here at Myothrive). 
  • Increased ROM
  • Stretching of tight hip flexor and stomach muscles from sitting and bending forward all day
  • Opens up the shoulders and chest
  • Promotes healthy lumbar discs

Who shouldn’t try this?

If you have any serious spinal pathology or pain you should do this under the care of a trained practitioner so they can assess which direction is going to help you. If you have spinal stenosis or severe osteoarthritis this movement may be very limited or unavailable to you and may aggravate your pain. So again if in doubt find a trained McKenzie practitioner. Sarah Hall (that’s me) here at Myothrive is trained in the McKenzie technique for low back pain and lower limb pain including sciatica type symptoms.

I have a healthy spine and want to try this!

Try one of the following ways of bending backwards and see which feels best for you. We should try to spend as much time bending backwards and we do forwards, although you may want to slowly work up to doing more as the muscles might fatigue in doing these too often too soon, just like any other muscle would. Backs like to move so rather than holding the pose try coming in and out of the pose about 10 times. Walking is also another great back loving activity! Enjoy!

More about the McKenzie Technique or also known as Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy

This a technique developed in the 60s by Robin McKenzie, a Physiotherapist from New Zealand. He has received many awards for his research and the technique itself has undergone a lot of testing by the scientific community. It is a globally recognised method that combines the best evidence based practice techniques available. It involves the assessment, treatment, education and empowerment of patients with pain in various locations including the low back, the neck or the extremities. For more information visit there website by clicking here.

Dwan Rosairo and Sarah Hall are both trained in the use of this technique specific to low back pain.

Which therapy is right for me?