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Things We Already Know: low back (part I)

Posted by tdifranc on June 30, 2010

I recently read something again for the first time!  Just like in the old Corn Flakes commercials….every once in awhile I read something I already know from an old article, book, or blog and it just sounds better or makes more sense.  I was writing a chapter for a book I had been asked to contribute to and suddenly found myself wrapped up in an aggressive game of procrastination!  During my procrastination I began reading through a book called “Mechanical Low Back Pain – Perspectives in Functional Anatomy” by, James A. Porterfield and Carl DeRosa.

I am fully aware of all of the current research and findings related to low back pain and how to safely train the “core” but as I read different excerpts from this book I began to wonder why/how it had remained on my bookshelf for 4-6 years without me really digging into it!  The copyright on the book is 1998 but this is the 2nd ed. and it appears the 1st ed. came out in 1991.  Wait……1991!!!???!!!  These authors seem to have been ahead of their time along with people like Stuart McGill, PhD and Craig Liebenson, DC.

Here is a basic summary of what I read again for the first time:

Porterfield and DeRosa (1998) suggested that spinal extension or extreme lordotic posture during lifting can cause increased compression through the facet (zygapophyseal) joints as well as the posterior disc.  They went on to explain that an extreme lordotic curve during a heavy lift almost never occurs because as you lift the pelvis rotates posteriorly and this leads to lumbar flexion (out of lordosis or straight back). Additionally they pointed out that this return from lordosis to a neutral or slightly flexed position combined with slightly bent knees helps to redistribute compressive stresses safely over the discs.  They concluded this point by proposing that to tell someone to keep their back straight during a heavy lift will likely result in the lumbar spine positioned optimally.

Poor Lifting Technique

This guy has more to worry about than how straight his back is (or isn't).

I already knew (and we all do) that EXTREME extension or flexion of the spine during a lift is BAD but the way Porterfield and DeRosa explained it really helped me to sharpen my focus on the topic.


Porterfield JA, DeRosa C.  Mechanical Low Back Pain Perspectives in Functional Anatomy.  Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1998.


One Response to “Things We Already Know: low back (part I)”

  1. […] to a few posts from the archives (if you are interested) – Things We Already Know: low back Part 1 & Part […]

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