What is Spine Sparing, and How Can it Help Reduce Pain in Everyday Movement?

Simple everyday activities performed poorly can greatly sensitise the lower back to movement and dramatically reduce its capacity to perform the basic most of functions. Have you ever tried tying your shoes, getting out of bed or out of a car, putting on socks, or getting out of a chair with a sore back?

If your back is stirred up, there are a number of helpful hints worth discussing to reduce further irritation. Keep in mind that these are general hints, and can never replace a thorough assessment with your chiropractor.

These hints are particularly useful if you’re the type of patient who sees the chiropractor, but then somehow triggers the pain again not long after. Often, treatment is far more effective if only the aggravating movements can be avoided in between!

Over the next few months, I will detail some basic protocols that can be easily applied every day and, combined together, can hugely influence your spine’s sensitivity to pain and greatly increase your capacity to cope with day to day activities. Sound easy? It should be. Provided there is good discipline in execution – remember, nothing worthwhile is free.

Before we get started… a little anatomy!

Before I describe the first basic movement protocol, it’s important to understand a few things about the “discs” in your low back.

The discs in your spine are relatively more ‘swollen’ first thing in the morning. This is because they are made of a material that loves water and will absorb more during the night while you are sleeping. This ‘swelling’ will normalise within about 30-60 minutes of getting up and moving around, and is a perfectly normal phenomenon. However, the relative stresses through the disc and its supportive structures are increased until gravity and body weight ‘squeezes’ some of that water out again. Imagine two water balloons, one with twice as much water as the other. If both are squeezed, the one with more water bulges or stretches more out to the sides.

Getting out of bed without annoying your back

For our first spine sparing protocol, let’s start with something we all do at the start of every day— sitting up out of bed.

Most people are likely to simply sit straight up and simultaneously rotate from lying on their back to sit on the edge of the bed. This creates torsion and loading on the relatively swollen disc, potentially irritating and sensitising a back that hasn’t been warmed up. Try this instead.

Step 1

Roll over onto your side, facing the side of the bed you want to get out of.

Step 2

Let your legs hang off the side, and push up with your arms/elbow while using your legs as a counterbalance.

This simple 2 step protocol hugely spares the spine by preventing any unnecessary rotation and requiring far less muscular effort from the muscles surrounding the lower back. In this way there is a reduction in any reactive compres