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How can I tell if I have a spinal extension problem?

Rick Olderman
Physical Therapy
To test for spinal extension problems (a movement dysfunction wherein the spine is unable to flatten (flex) adequately or wherein the abdominals cannot stabilize the
spine's extension, causing pain) do the following:

1. Stand in a normal position. Do you have back pain?

2. Bend down and reach toward your toes. Does your back feel better or worse when you are flexed forward?

3. Return to standing. Does your pain increase or decrease while returning to an upright position?

4. Lean against a wall, flattening your lower back against it. You may have to bend your knees or walk your feet away from the wall to flatten your lower back without straining. Does your pain increase or decrease when your lower back is flattened against the wall?

5. Sit in a chair. Press your lower back into the back of the chair. Does your pain increase or decrease?

6. Lie on your back (supine) on a firm surface, such as the floor. Let your body relax. Extend your legs so they rest on the floor with your knees straight. Stay there for approximately one minute. Walk your feet back to your rear, bending your knees, and stop at a comfortable position. Stay there for approximately one minute. Which position is more comfortable? If there is no difference, pull your knees up to your chest and hold them there for one minute, then assess.
Legs extended / Legs flexed (knees bent)?

People with extension problems typically give the following answers:

1. Yes
2. Better
3. Increase
4. Decrease
5. Decrease
6. Legs flexed (knees bent)
Fixing You: Back Pain During Pregnancy: Self-treatment for sciatica, back pain, SI Joint or pelvic pain, and advice for abdominal strengthening post partum.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.