Bending… Is it good for our spines?

In Blog by PixelWhip

12Time and time again I find patients, who have been suffering with a “bad back” for many years, tend to avoid bending.  They have often had a very severe episode of back pain where they were unable to bend due to pain and muscle spasm.  Once this has resolved they have been too scared to do anything except “keep their back straight”.  Or there are those patients that have had their back “go” on them whilst bending and hence they are reluctant to trust their spine in this movement.

Bending however is very important for our spines.  This was a concept that I became aware of when I met Sarah Key.  Sarah Key is a physiotherapist based in Sydney who has tremendous experience in treating “bad backs”.

There are many benefits of bending….

  • It stimulates disc metabolism- Bending puts some gentle pressure onto our discs.  Our discs need this pressure to stay fresh and healthy.   This pressure encourages fluid to be gently squeezed from our discs and new fluid to be drawn back in when the pressure is released.  In this way, Sarah Key suggests that bending gives our discs a drink.
  • It re-educates deep back stability muscles.  We have small, stabilizing muscles deep in the lower back, called multifidus.  They are often deconditioned in sufferers of back pain.  Bending, and in particular rolling back up to standing after bending over, switches these muscles back on and helps prevent further back “glitches”.
  • It stretches overused, tight back muscles- Bending right over in the direction of our toes allows our long cable back muscles to get a stretch and a chance to rest.  In a “bad back” these muscles are often on overdrive and cause compression and stiffness in the lower back.

Now that doesn’t mean we should start touching our toes repetitively, all day long as too much bending will make a sore back more sore.  But 2-3 toe touches as outlined below is good for your spine.

If you would like some more information about bending and the lower back or about Sarah Key and her approach to treating low back pain please feel free to contact myself or Michelle at Victoria Physiotherapy Group.

Elesha Mcfarlane
4th October 2014

Toe Touches


  • Start with your feet hip width apart & hands by your side.
  • Pull in your lower abdominal muscles
  • Take your chin to your chest & curl forward towards the floor with your hands sliding down the front of your thighs.
  • Make sure your lower abdomen feels firm & secure during the whole movement.
  • Bend your knees slightly so you can hang there like a gorilla & feel a stretching sensation in your lower back.
  • Then squeeze your buttocks & draw your abdominals in to come up with an unfurling action. Your head comes up last.

Repeat 3 times in a row.


Sprinkle them throughout your day