Saturday, January 24, 2009

Safety Saturday: Back Care 2

In last week's Safety Saturday post, I told you how our spine is a natural S-curve, made up of vertebrae (the bones) and discs. The discs are made up of the annulus and a nucleus: the annulus is like a tire, and the nucleus is like a doughnut inside that tire.

One thing I didn't mention: the discs and the vertebrae are all connected to each other. Each disc is attached to each vertebra. When you twist your back, your discs twist (bones don't "twist", so the disc, specifically the "tire" (annulus), is what twists).

Have you ever been on a tire swing? They're pretty sturdy. Have you ever tried to TWIST a tire? It doesn't happen easily. But if you do it enough, what do you think will happen to the tire? Eventually, with enough twist, the tire might form little tears.

Same thing with your back.

If you twist your back, especially in an uncontrolled manner, little tears, or microdamage, can form in the "tire" (annulus) of your disc. The more you twist, especially when carrying weights, the more damage occurs.

Of course, I'm not referring to controlled twists when you're working out. I'm referring to uncontrolled lifting and twisting. For example, when you're loading the groceries into the trunk, and you're twisting back and forth from the grocery cart to the trunk.

What could you do to reduce this damage? As you "twist", move your feet, so that you're not twisting your back, but your whole body. Am I describing that right? Whenever I deliver training, I always demonstrate, so I'm not sure if I've described it right.

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