Forward Bending & Low Back Pain

Spine, Volume 21, Number 1, pp. 71-78, 1996, “Analysis of Lumbar Spine and Hip Motion During Forward Bending in Subjects With and Without a History of Low Back Pain,” written by Marcia A. Esola, M.S., P.T.; Philip W. McClure, M.S., P.T.; G. Kelley Fitzgerald, M.S., P.T.; and Sorin Siegler, Ph.D., U.S.A.:

In this study, a motion analysis system was used to measure the amount and velocity of lumbar spine and hip motion during forward bending.

The authors begin by citing the following previous findings:

EPIDEMIC OF LOW BACK PAIN

“Disorders of the low back have reached epidemic proportions, (DeRosa, C.P., 1992).”

BILLIONS OF $$$ ANNUALLY, LOST WORK TIME & WORKERS’ COMP CLAIMS

“Epidemiologic studies show that billions of dollars are spent annually on the problem of low back pain, which is one of the most commonly-cited problems for lost work time in industry and Workers’ Compensation claims, (Chase, J.A., 1992; Frymoyer, J.W., 1988; and Pope, M.H., et al., 1991).”

FREQUENT FORWARD BENDING & LOW BACK PAIN

“Researchers have shown an association between frequent forward bending and low back pain, (Berquist-Ullman, M., et al., 1977; Magora, A., 1973; Mellin, G., 1986; Punnett, L, et al., 1991; Svensson H.O., et al., 1989; Videman T., et al., 1989).”

SLOUCHING WHILE SEATED / BENDING AT THE WAIST WHILE STANDING

“Prolonged sitting with the lumbar spine in a flexed position (slouching) and flexed standing postures (bending at the waist) are also associated with an increased risk of low back pain, (Anderson, G.B.J., 1991; Berquist-Ullman, M., et al., 1977; Magora, A., 1972; Punnett, L., et al., 1991; Riihimaki, H., et al., 1989).”

OCCUPATIONS INVOLVING REPETITIVE FORWARD BENDING

“Saunders reports that people with herniated inter-vertebral discs often have a history of an activity or occupation involving repetitive forward bending.”

“Nachemson (1981) has shown that inter-vertebral disc pressure increases 20 percent over that measured in standing when forward bending 20 degrees, and increases 100 percent when bending up to 40 degrees.”

INADEQUATE HIP FLEXIBILITY & EXCESSIVE LUMBAR MOTION

“It has been suggested that inadequate hip flexibility coupled with excessive lumbar motion during forward bending results in low back pain, (Biering-Sorenson, F., 1984; Sahramann, S.A., 1993). . .Sahramann (1993) suggests that excessive lumbar mobility leads to tissue overloading, micro-trauma, and ultimately the development of degenerative joint and disc disease. A person may experience low back pain at any stage of this sequence of events.

FORWARD BENDING = RISK FACTOR FOR LOW BACK PAIN

“Forward bending has been clearly recognized as a risk factor for low back pain. Altered movement patterns of the lumbar spine and hips during forward bending may help explain why forward bending is a risk factor for the development of low back pain.”

HAMSTRING STRETCHING HELPFUL 

In the conclusions, the authors state: “The results provide quantitative data to guide clinical assessment of forward bending motion.  Results also suggest that although people with a history of low back pain have amounts of lumbar spine and hip motion during forward bending similar to those of healthy subjects, the pattern of motion is different.  It may be desirable to teach patients with a history of low back pain to use more hip motion during early forward bending, and hamstring stretching may be helpful for encouraging earlier hip motion.”

Author: Melanie Loomos

I was a court reporter for 10 years and spent most of my time in very uncomfortable chairs. As a result, I spent years researching seating and submitted two patent applications: "The Carpal Tunnel Chair,” and "The Pillow with Cantilever Supports," which was granted and became The Buttpillow®. Subsequently, The Buttpillow® was improved upon as it was determined different embodiments were needed for proper ergonomic positioning depending on the individual sitter. The Patented "Ergonomic Seating Cushion,” was was granted by the USPTO; and was later amended to include an embodiment specifically to help women maintain the natural curve of their lumbar spine during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. An extreme lumbar curve that restricts blood flow to the fetus is the only external risk factor for low birth weight babies. Subsequently, in 2003, I invented Ergosoft™ break reminder software based on OSHAs Ergonomic Standard so people can identify and minimize ergonomic risk factors for the development of sitting-related pain, eye strain, DVT and carpal tunnel syndrome.

2 thoughts on “Forward Bending & Low Back Pain”

    1. There is a lot of peer reviewed research (about 50 years) that I am going to post. I am building a new web site called buttpillow.com so I can sell the patented ergonomic seating cushion and will put research regarding sitting related problems, such as hemorrhoids, prostatitis, pregnancy related pain, etc.. I am also building ErgoNews.com, where I am going to put all the “boring medical research.” Feel free to share it as much as you want. I think we both are trying to help people minimize risk factors for the development of musculoskeletal disorders and the pain and suffering that results.

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