Front of the spine is the culprit
A forward bent spine occurs when the muscles on the front of the spine, are in a spasm or tight. When this occurs the front of the spine bones and the pelvis bones are pulled together. This does not allow them to release to straighten the spine or bend it backward. When the spine bends forward we call this flexion. A forward bent spine that is more comfortable bending forward such as sitting or lying curled into a ball is an indication that the trouble is on the front of the spine. An aching type of back pain rather than a sharp, stabbing pain, is a clue that the problem is coming from the front of the spine. Mind you, the aching in the back can be quite intense. However, in this situation, it is hard to put a fingertip on the pain but you can put your hand on the area.
Conversely, when you feel better standing, lying straight, or bending backward it indicates the problem is on the back of the spine. Typically, you can point with a fingertip on the pain and it hurts intensely when you push on the spine then you have found the trouble on the back side of the spine. Most commonly, I find a forward bent spine is the culprit for back pain and pain throughout the body.
Forward bent spine restricted from extending
When the iliopsoas muscle group is in a spasm it pulls the spine into flexion. A forward bent spine cannot move to neutral (straight) or extension (backward bending). My amazingly talented sister helped me show this flexion by creating this model “pinched Pete”. In this first photo, Pete shows his right iliopsoas muscle in a spasm. Then the second photo shows him in standing which shows him bent forward or flexed and unable to get into neutral or extend the spine.
Pinched Pete right spine flexed
Forward bent spine pinched Pete in standing
Skeleton in flexion
Details of the spine being held in flexion are more obvious with this skeleton showing the muscle that attaches to the spine and to the front of the thigh bone in a shortened position or spasm. It then pulls the bones it attaches to toward each other which would flex the hip making it bend forward.
Skeleton showing left hip in flexed position lying on back
In standing, this photo shows the left hip flexed or bent forward. The foot is demonstrated held off the ground. However, in standing the foot would hit the ground and be fixed and stable which would then bend the spine forward or hold it in flexion.
Skeleton standing showing flexed left hip
Gary forward bent spine
Gary’s photos taken from the side show the flexed spine. In the first photo, his pelvis and back bones are being pulled toward each other and he is not able to stand up straight. The second photo shows his spine closer to neutral after treatment. You can see that in the first photo the back is straight and in the second photo, the natural curve of the back is more obvious. I also think he looks thinner in the second photo.
Gary spine in flexion
Before treatment, Gary is held into After treatment showing the spine
forward bent spine in flexion closer to neutral
The treatment used to improve Gary’s spinal alignment is the Releasing Joint Restrictions (RJR) specialized stretching protocol using the Horse and Thinker Treatment position for 90 seconds. After the treatment, he noted less back pain and was able to bend backward or move into extension easier.
This exercise is recommended two times a day and anytime you feel the pain or restriction from moving into extension, such as pain or difficulty standing up straight or bending backward.