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Directional Preference and Back Pain Recovery
As we continue our War on low back pain and the back Attack/Acute pain finally subsides, most people begin to have periods where they have no pain. At this stage in your recovery, you will find that some movements feel OK, or even make your back feel better, whereas other activities irritate.
When this happens, it is an indicator that you are ready to exercise. What’s most important is to exercise using a program which respects your back’s Directional Preference. This means your program should include exercises your back “prefers” and limit exercises which irritate.
The avoidance of irritation, combined with the benefits of exercising based on preferences, will help you to move forward to become stronger and return to a full and active lifestyle.
Knowing Your Back’s Directional Preference
Initially, most people will need their therapist or physician to help them understand the underlying pattern connecting these right and wrong movements. At first it may seem a bit random until the trained practitioner identifies the directionality. However, once you understand the directionality, this knowledge will help you make better decisions on what to do or not do as you are recovering. It will help you to choose exercises, safe cardio workouts and engage in everyday movements safely.
Directional Preference Designations
Most backs exhibit one of three Directional Preferences:
- Flexion preference – your back prefers forward bending
- Extension preference – your back prefers backward bending
- Neutral preference – your back is best if you keep it in neutral. It irritates if you go into more flexion or more extension.
Our New on-line Classes are for All Types of Back’s
We are launching our exercise series with videos and classes in Mid April 2021. Click Here to learn more about each class
These classes will be suitable for most backs as each exercise will be completed in a spinal neutral posture. If your back is a bit more particular about its directional preference, you can still participate as each exercise will also include a reminder of a modification for flexion or extension preference.
Why use Directional Preference Rather than Diagnosis?
Our therapists, and many physicians, use the designation of Directional Preference to choose exercise programs. This well-established format is used world-wide. It is successful at helping people become more active because it respects the fact that even two people with the same diagnosis can have completely different directional preferences!
For example, although most people with spinal stenosis will prefer flexion, there is a small group of people who will do better with extension.
A diagnosis of discogenic back pain gives limited insight into the type of exercise you need. Some backs will need flexion whereas others will do better with extension.
These variabilities are why it is essential to know your Directional Preference to engage in safe exercise at this time in your recovery.
Key to your Success
The key to your success in this series is to:
- Respect your Directional Preference and use it throughout the series
- Commit to understanding the technique for each exercise. Use the reference videos, or your therapist, to ensure you are getting the most out of the program.
- Apply the tips and activation strategies that work for your body to prevent/limit pain from exercise. Recognize that not every tip works for every person. This is why we provide you with several options on how to get the correct muscles working. Once you learn what works for you, apply this throughout the exercise program.
We look forward to helping you get more active with safe exercise. If you need further assistance, please call us at 416–925–4687 or contact your therapist at the following emails:
- Maureen Dwight Reg. Physiotherapist – email@example.com
- Taylor Sipos Reg. Physiotherapist – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tiffany Shi Reg. Physiotherapist – email@example.com
- Juliette Woodruff Reg. Massage Therapist – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jenny Song Reg. Massage Therapist – email@example.com
- John Gray Reg. Kinesiologist – firstname.lastname@example.org