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Painful "Catches" When You Move

Updated: Oct 8, 2018

Have you ever experienced painful "catches" when you move, painful stabs, or shots such as when reaching into the car trunk, picking up a bag of groceries or sneezing? This may indicate that you have what Dr. Stuart McGill calls spinal instability. (Back Mechanic by Stuart McGill).

Why this happens: The spinal column itself is supported by a network of connective tissue and muscles. When this network of support is weakened the spinal column becomes unstable, loose and this creates micro-movements of the spinal joints that irritate the nerve roots and triggers pain.

What to do about it: According to McGill, stop chiropractic treatment, stop bending and twisting. Instead, stabilize the spine through strengthening exercises for the spine. This includes exercises for the inner core and back strengtheners. 

Some key postures are the sunbird (sometimes called birddog), side plank (sometimes called side bridge) and cobra.

1. Sunbird. When you practice sunbird do not round the spine - ever; hold the lift of your arm and opposite leg for less than 10 seconds then "sweep" the leg and arm to the floor and back into the lift without moving the spine. Repeat 6 times then switch sides.

2. Side Plank/Side Bridge. Start on your side with elbow on the floor and both knees stacked. Instead of lifting up, unfold forwards at the hips. Hold for up to 10 seconds. Repeat 6 times then switch sides.

3. Cobra. A posture commonly used to stretch the front of the body. Modified cobra is a powerful and highly effective way to strengthen the back muscles including the multifidi, spinal erectors and pelvic structure. Key is to lift the chest as you pull the shoulders away from the ears to stiffen the whole back without over-bending in the low back.

With the first two postures you must keep your abdominals somewhat engaged and your back stiffened by bringing it into a neutral position (not rounded) with shoulders away from the ears. In other words maintain inner core engagement with each hold as your breathe.

If you want me to coach you with these exercises, there are many ways you can work with me. Give me a call to discuss your options. 


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