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  1. #1
    Registered User rfaz13's Avatar
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    Spinal decompression exercises?

    Hey guys, Ive been dealing with a herniated disc for about a year and a half now... thought I was good up until a few days ago I seem to have re-tweaked it (dont even know how, pretty sure I moved the wrong way). Ive been feeling great lately, really strong and flexable. Ive been back in the gym for about 3 months now after taking over a year off due to the injury and everything was looking up...

    Im looking for some good AT HOME spinal decompression exercises. I just spent almost an hour looking on youtube and crap like that but everything I found was garbage, it just made my back hurt even more...


    Any help would be appreciated.
    Amat Victoria Curam





    Current/Goal
    Weight- 265/235-245 (lean)
    Body fat- 18%/8%
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    Squat- 325/405
    Deadlift- 365/415lbs

    (Herniated l5-s1 and l4-l5)
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    You may want to invest in a inversion table.
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    Inversion table's the only way I know to decompress the entire spine at once, but that's mostly due to the neck. If the problem is in your lower back, inversion isn't necessary, though it still makes a good option.

    Vertical pulling movements (pulldowns, pull ups) do it, as well as just hanging from the bar (both flexed arm and straight arm work) or putting your arms in an ab sling, or using a captain's chair. I think dips also do it. The weighted versions probably do it even more though I'm not sure since part of it might be relaxation.

    Without equipment I'm not really sure how to do it though. All I can think is that thing where you have hands on the ground and suspend weight from it with locked arms (kind of like the top of a dip) but you bring knees to chest. It's a lot easier with handles or a chair for the extra height.

    Short of pulling your whole weight though, I think if you have a lat pulldown machine (I want to get one at home!) it can be a gentler option and allows us to keep applying traction even past the point where we can't grip our whole weight on the bar anymore.

    There's also things you can do in your bed like if you hook the top of your feet on the bottom of your mattress and then grip the headboard somewhere and pull. I do that before I go to sleep. Think of it like voluntarily using one of those torture rack type stuff.

    Swimming also seems to involve this, though ob. not a home activity.
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    Registered User rfaz13's Avatar
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    I actually do have an inversion table, but unfortunately it doesnt decompress enough to really help with a herniated disc...that and its kind of hard to spend a lot of time in it lol. I know there are a few at home exercises that decompress your spine, I do a few of them, but I cant help but feel like Im missing something...

    Anyway, thanks for the input, but it turns out I just had a REALLY, really bad muscle spasm (oddly enough thats awesome news lol). Im still in the market for anything that decompresses my lower spine though..rather not go through my whole life with a herniation -___-
    Amat Victoria Curam





    Current/Goal
    Weight- 265/235-245 (lean)
    Body fat- 18%/8%
    Bench Press- 290lbs/315lbs
    Squat- 325/405
    Deadlift- 365/415lbs

    (Herniated l5-s1 and l4-l5)
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    are chiropractors much help with that?
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    Originally Posted by jmonty View Post
    are chiropractors much help with that?
    My personal experience with a chiro....HELL no. Terrible! I recommend NEVER going to see a chiro. EVER! My father warned me before I went about how bad chiros are and how they often cause more damage than when you walked in...I didnt listen. The guy is our neighbor and family friend, and I STILL had issues with him. I am fully on the side of the argument with everyone that says DONT GO TO A CHIRO!!

    Much better off finding a good physical therapist.
    Amat Victoria Curam





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    Weight- 265/235-245 (lean)
    Body fat- 18%/8%
    Bench Press- 290lbs/315lbs
    Squat- 325/405
    Deadlift- 365/415lbs

    (Herniated l5-s1 and l4-l5)
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    Hang on the pullup bar with a dumbell between your feet. I swear by it.
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    Hang on the pullup bar with a dumbell between your feet. I swear by it.
    haha I was actually thinking of doing that. I was gonna buy a couple of those "Ab strap" things tomorrow. The ones that you hang under your armpits...For the time being I can just hang from the pullup bar but it wont last too long :P
    Amat Victoria Curam





    Current/Goal
    Weight- 265/235-245 (lean)
    Body fat- 18%/8%
    Bench Press- 290lbs/315lbs
    Squat- 325/405
    Deadlift- 365/415lbs

    (Herniated l5-s1 and l4-l5)
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    As a licensed physical therapist studying MDT (I am biased, but personally I think this is the best for disc-related problems) try prone extensions. Decompression may not necessarily be what you need. Without actually seeing you I am obviously giving this as a general exercise for your spine, as there are different exercises/positions you can do tailored to your particular problem. Basically, lay prone on your stomach. With your butt and legs relax do a push-up, extending your elbows as far as you can, while keeping your hips on the ground. Do at least ten as long as you don't have any radiating symptoms or increased pain. If anything it should just feel like a pressure at the end-range of movement and relief when you return to the bottom position. Without getting into it too much, you can basically milk a disc into place depending on the severity of the bulge. We live our lives in flexion, constantly bending over, sitting in slumped postures, etc. where eventually it takes a toll and eventually a person can bulge/rupture/etc. a disc as the disc wall weakens over time. This is further complicated with bodybuilding with the deadlifts/squats we do. I think more people should be doing prone extensions after deadlifts/squats more so as a preventative/maintenance measure, which I have added to my routine.

    Again I am just giving you a general technique you can try to see if it works. I see disc-related problems often in the clinic and an extension-principle gets the majority of people better that don't require surgery. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions as I might miss any updates in this thread (not on here that often).
    Last edited by insatiablebulk; 08-24-2011 at 09:21 PM.
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    Hang on the pullup bar with a dumbell between your feet. I swear by it.
    This would work faster, though could fatigue grip faster too (could always just drop the DB and get a few more seconds with BW at end).

    Also: even though most tables say not to do it, you cna hold dumbbells on inversion tables too. Just keep in mind the max weight limit. Like if it has a 300lb capacity and you weigh 200lbs, might not want to lift more than 80lbs.
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    Originally Posted by insatiablebulk View Post
    As a licensed physical therapist studying MDT (I am biased, but personally I think this is the best for disc-related problems) try prone extensions. Decompression may not necessarily be what you need. Without actually seeing you I am obviously giving this as a general exercise for your spine, as there are different exercises/positions you can do tailored to your particular problem. Basically, lay prone on your stomach. With your butt and legs relax do a push-up, extending your elbows as far as you can, while keeping your hips on the ground. Do at least ten as long as you don't have any radiating symptoms or increased pain. If anything it should just feel like a pressure at the end-range of movement and relief when you return to the bottom position. Without getting into it too much, you can basically milk a disc into place depending on the severity of the bulge. We live our lives in flexion, constantly bending over, sitting in slumped postures, etc. where eventually it takes a toll and eventually a person can bulge/rupture/etc. a disc as the disc wall weakens over time. This is further complicated with bodybuilding with the deadlifts/squats we do. I think more people should be doing prone extensions after deadlifts/squats more so as a preventative/maintenance measure, which I have added to my routine.

    Again I am just giving you a general technique you can try to see if it works. I see disc-related problems often in the clinic and an extension-principle gets the majority of people better that don't require surgery. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions as I might miss any updates in this thread (not on here that often).
    just tried this and that really helped. repped
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    Alright Rfaz13.

    I work with many injured clients and am affiliated with a sports medecine center. I have had a herniated disc in my life and repaired it along with several other clients who had run into the same thing. Before you start doing exercises on youtube or what other strangers on the net tell you (which is extremely dangerous) We need to identify all symptoms and the grade of the herniation. Please describe all symptoms ( stiffness, sciatica etc...) Can you also provide me with the location of the herniation. L4, L5?? And lastly, I fully agree with NOT GOING TO SEE A CHIRO. Many of my clients were injured further due to their treatments.
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    Originally Posted by insatiablebulk View Post
    As a licensed physical therapist studying MDT (I am biased, but personally I think this is the best for disc-related problems) try prone extensions. Decompression may not necessarily be what you need. Without actually seeing you I am obviously giving this as a general exercise for your spine, as there are different exercises/positions you can do tailored to your particular problem. Basically, lay prone on your stomach. With your butt and legs relax do a push-up, extending your elbows as far as you can, while keeping your hips on the ground. Do at least ten as long as you don't have any radiating symptoms or increased pain. If anything it should just feel like a pressure at the end-range of movement and relief when you return to the bottom position. Without getting into it too much, you can basically milk a disc into place depending on the severity of the bulge. We live our lives in flexion, constantly bending over, sitting in slumped postures, etc. where eventually it takes a toll and eventually a person can bulge/rupture/etc. a disc as the disc wall weakens over time. This is further complicated with bodybuilding with the deadlifts/squats we do. I think more people should be doing prone extensions after deadlifts/squats more so as a preventative/maintenance measure, which I have added to my routine.

    Again I am just giving you a general technique you can try to see if it works. I see disc-related problems often in the clinic and an extension-principle gets the majority of people better that don't require surgery. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions as I might miss any updates in this thread (not on here that often).
    I recognize this as the mckenzie method, great suggestion! I still think that he should see either a sports therapist or an osteopath (not sure how they operate in the states) to realease any ceased ligaments which could be forcing the roation of the vertebrae in question.
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    I herniated a disc years ago. For months i saw a chiropractor who misdiagnosed me (said i had a stubborn hip that needed to be stretched out every week). When i got a second opinion, i was sent for a CT scan which located the herniation (L5 i think?). The surgeon wanted to cut me open right away but a physio i was seeing recommended swimming in a heated pool. Walking up and down, backwards, sideways etc. For an hour a day i have done that ever since and never had any real problems. It took a long time to heal but believe me its the best thing you will do. Everything else, including the table will only aggravate the problem in my experience. A heated pool and a few low impact exercises in the water is my best advice. It might seem boring but its like meditation and really puts you in a good frame of mind for the rest of the day.
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    Originally Posted by insatiablebulk View Post
    As a licensed physical therapist studying MDT (I am biased, but personally I think this is the best for disc-related problems) try prone extensions. Decompression may not necessarily be what you need. Without actually seeing you I am obviously giving this as a general exercise for your spine, as there are different exercises/positions you can do tailored to your particular problem. Basically, lay prone on your stomach. With your butt and legs relax do a push-up, extending your elbows as far as you can, while keeping your hips on the ground. Do at least ten as long as you don't have any radiating symptoms or increased pain. If anything it should just feel like a pressure at the end-range of movement and relief when you return to the bottom position. Without getting into it too much, you can basically milk a disc into place depending on the severity of the bulge. We live our lives in flexion, constantly bending over, sitting in slumped postures, etc. where eventually it takes a toll and eventually a person can bulge/rupture/etc. a disc as the disc wall weakens over time. This is further complicated with bodybuilding with the deadlifts/squats we do. I think more people should be doing prone extensions after deadlifts/squats more so as a preventative/maintenance measure, which I have added to my routine.

    Again I am just giving you a general technique you can try to see if it works. I see disc-related problems often in the clinic and an extension-principle gets the majority of people better that don't require surgery. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions as I might miss any updates in this thread (not on here that often).
    Yes that's the Cobra asana in Yoga. VERRRRRY good!
    This brings up another subject, yoga. More bodybuilders need to do this.

    Feel free to post more on your field of knowledge.

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    Originally Posted by karl.viger View Post
    Alright Rfaz13.

    I work with many injured clients and am affiliated with a sports medecine center. I have had a herniated disc in my life and repaired it along with several other clients who had run into the same thing. Before you start doing exercises on youtube or what other strangers on the net tell you (which is extremely dangerous) We need to identify all symptoms and the grade of the herniation. Please describe all symptoms ( stiffness, sciatica etc...) Can you also provide me with the location of the herniation. L4, L5?? And lastly, I fully agree with NOT GOING TO SEE A CHIRO. Many of my clients were injured further due to their treatments.
    I have a bulged l4 l5 and a mildly herniated l5 s1. Ive had it for about a year and a half now.. seen a million docs, done tons of PT, did the drx 9000 (the only thing that helped me...too bad insurance companies are ****ing crooks and wont cover it). Ive been through the ringer lol. Im just looking for some new exercise advice. Luckily, the flair up that prompted this post died down. It was just a really nasty muscle spasm..sure didnt feel like one though. Hurt worse than a year ago when my herniation was at its worst. Got me pretty nervous lol
    Amat Victoria Curam





    Current/Goal
    Weight- 265/235-245 (lean)
    Body fat- 18%/8%
    Bench Press- 290lbs/315lbs
    Squat- 325/405
    Deadlift- 365/415lbs

    (Herniated l5-s1 and l4-l5)
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    Originally Posted by rfaz13 View Post
    My personal experience with a chiro....HELL no. Terrible! I recommend NEVER going to see a chiro. EVER! My father warned me before I went about how bad chiros are and how they often cause more damage than when you walked in...I didnt listen. The guy is our neighbor and family friend, and I STILL had issues with him. I am fully on the side of the argument with everyone that says DONT GO TO A CHIRO!!

    Much better off finding a good physical therapist.
    Opinions and doctors vary. I had success seeing a chiro who used decompression therapy to rid me of my low back pain. My problem was due to tight/weak muscles. I didn't have any disc problem.
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    Originally Posted by JeepCreeper View Post
    Opinions and doctors vary. I had success seeing a chiro who used decompression therapy to rid me of my low back pain. My problem was due to tight/weak muscles. I didn't have any disc problem.
    Did he use a drx9000? Thats the only circumstance in which Id see another chiro, I had awesome success with the drx but I ran out of visits when I wasnt QUITE healed and its just too expensive. Like I said...*%$# insurance companies.
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    (Herniated l5-s1 and l4-l5)
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    Originally Posted by rfaz13 View Post
    I have a bulged l4 l5 and a mildly herniated l5 s1. Ive had it for about a year and a half now.. seen a million docs, done tons of PT, did the drx 9000 (the only thing that helped me...too bad insurance companies are ****ing crooks and wont cover it). Ive been through the ringer lol. Im just looking for some new exercise advice. Luckily, the flair up that prompted this post died down. It was just a really nasty muscle spasm..sure didnt feel like one though. Hurt worse than a year ago when my herniation was at its worst. Got me pretty nervous lol
    Glad to hear it was just a muscle spasm, they are not as serious but can be debilitating in regards to pain. I know your story all too well, its scary to see how many people just get bumped around with back injuries with no real treatment. Your original herniation is one of the more common ones due to the way the vertebrae are anchored. I would however like to suggest a few things that will perhaps keep you in the game longer without a re-occurring injury and possible surgery.

    1) Avoid super soft matresses
    2) Strengthen the transverse abdominis
    3) Avoid dangerous flexion movements for a while (This include dead lifts and sloppy back extensions)
    4) I know this one is hard to hear (Focus more on volume, time under tension than lifting a maximal load)
    5) Avoid other movements that can cause a shearing force (Golf, shoveling and any other lifting/twisting movements)
    6) Be careful with really long car rides since they cause flexion of the spine and then we hop out and lift our luggage out of the trunk

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by karl.viger; 08-25-2011 at 10:51 AM.
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    Originally Posted by karl.viger View Post
    Glad to hear it was just a muscle spasm, they are not as serious but can be debilitating in regards to pain. I know your story all too well, its scary to see how many people just get bumped around with back injuries with no real treatment. Your original herniation is one of the more common ones due to the way the vertebrae are anchored. I would however like to suggest a few things that will perhaps keep you in the game longer without a re-occurring injury and possible surgery.

    1) Avoid super soft matresses
    2) Strengthen the transverse abdominis
    3) Avoid dangerous flexion movements for a while (This include dead lifts and sloppy back extensions)
    4) I know this one is hard to hear (Focus more on volume, time under tension than lifting a maximal load)
    5) Avoid other movements that can cause a shearing force (Golf, shoveling and any other lifting/twisting movements)
    6) Be careful with really long car rides since they cause flexion of the spine and then we hop out and lift our luggage out of the trunk

    Hope this helps!
    good advice
    Yes I'm 63 and natural but with a Test number of almost 800.


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    Tell us more about 'super soft mattresses'. My own mattress is thick, with a pillow top, and plus I have a nice 4" foam on top of it. It's so soft, I have to prop up one end of it, because my upper body sinks into it so far. I have no back issues. There's nothing wrong with this, right?
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    I believe that rreverse hyper extensions when prefermed past 90 degrees with a pendulum movement decompress the lower spine
    Loves deadlifting so much want to become coroner
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    might i add something else into the mix?
    Why is there pain?

    Lots of folks have herniated or compressed disks and there's no pain.
    Pain takes place in the brain, not at the site of pain - sure there *may* be certain nervous signals going from that site that could say "pain" to the brain, but really, not all such signals that are sent get interpreted in the brain as pain.

    One of the best ways in fact to calm down pain signals is simply to move. move the area. Why? that sets off a lot of mechanoreceptive stimulation - and such stimulation moves faster and there's lots more of it than nociceptive stimulation.

    SO - this means that while the cobra work (the back extensions) may be very good - so might doing mobilization of the neck. so might taking off ones shoes, walking back and forth to up proprioception, and doing a wee bit of balance work (stand on one leg with eyes closed).

    In other words: you've really only tested the cobra - a musculo-skeletal approach - that MAY be working not specifically because it's spinal extension, but because its a whole lot of neural stimulation. I worked with a client recently with horrible pain in the low back, was doing all the mckenzie work for years, inversion table stuff. and the pain that would still flare up. We ended up doing a lot of vision checks, and voila - two days of vision drills, seriously, has never reported in the past three years having such a flare up again.

    In working with our athletes we do an increasing amount of daily mobility, balance and vision practice. It's amazing how many very specific seeming pains just seem to disappear by working with the nervous system's senory-motor hierarchy of vision, balance, proprioception.

    as to the suggestion that more bodybuilders need to do yoga - sure yoga or any practice that focuses on owning joint by joint movement.
    http://www.begin2dig.com/2009/12/z-h...qigong-or.html

    but not just joint movement - balance (not bosu) and vision work all feed into whether the nervous system reacts to say there's a threat: shut down performance or good to go, open up performance.



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    Originally Posted by mc- View Post
    might i add something else into the mix?
    Why is there pain?

    Lots of folks have herniated or compressed disks and there's no pain.
    Pain takes place in the brain, not at the site of pain - sure there *may* be certain nervous signals going from that site that could say "pain" to the brain, but really, not all such signals that are sent get interpreted in the brain as pain.

    One of the best ways in fact to calm down pain signals is simply to move. move the area. Why? that sets off a lot of mechanoreceptive stimulation - and such stimulation moves faster and there's lots more of it than nociceptive stimulation.

    SO - this means that while the cobra work (the back extensions) may be very good - so might doing mobilization of the neck. so might taking off ones shoes, walking back and forth to up proprioception, and doing a wee bit of balance work (stand on one leg with eyes closed).

    In other words: you've really only tested the cobra - a musculo-skeletal approach - that MAY be working not specifically because it's spinal extension, but because its a whole lot of neural stimulation. I worked with a client recently with horrible pain in the low back, was doing all the mckenzie work for years, inversion table stuff. and the pain that would still flare up. We ended up doing a lot of vision checks, and voila - two days of vision drills, seriously, has never reported in the past three years having such a flare up again.

    In working with our athletes we do an increasing amount of daily mobility, balance and vision practice. It's amazing how many very specific seeming pains just seem to disappear by working with the nervous system's senory-motor hierarchy of vision, balance, proprioception.

    as to the suggestion that more bodybuilders need to do yoga - sure yoga or any practice that focuses on owning joint by joint movement.
    http://www.begin2dig.com/2009/12/z-h...qigong-or.html

    but not just joint movement - balance (not bosu) and vision work all feed into whether the nervous system reacts to say there's a threat: shut down performance or good to go, open up performance.



    best
    mc
    Fantastic post! Might be a bit heavy for some but excellent info!
    Yours in health,

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    http://www.onsite-fitness.net
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    Originally Posted by ManVsIron View Post
    Tell us more about 'super soft mattresses'. My own mattress is thick, with a pillow top, and plus I have a nice 4" foam on top of it. It's so soft, I have to prop up one end of it, because my upper body sinks into it so far. I have no back issues. There's nothing wrong with this, right?
    It all comes down to support and the position of the body and the spine. If you sleep on your back but the matress is so soft that your spine experiences a deeper flexion all night, every night, this could set you up for an injury in the future. Now if you are recovering from an injury and were instructed to sleep on your stomach or side with a pillow between your knees, the neutral position will be circumvented. Easy way to know for the regular joe: How do you feel when you wake up? Is your back stiff? Do you have trouble/pain putting on your socks? Assuming you haven't already incurred an injury, it could be your matress.

    Hope this helps!
    Yours in health,

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    This thread is full of intelligible helpful posts.

    +reps.

    The Cobra move has really helped me, and while I don't have a herniated disc it sure does feel good after a day of squats.
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    Originally Posted by insatiablebulk View Post
    As a licensed physical therapist studying MDT (I am biased, but personally I think this is the best for disc-related problems) try prone extensions. Decompression may not necessarily be what you need. Without actually seeing you I am obviously giving this as a general exercise for your spine, as there are different exercises/positions you can do tailored to your particular problem. Basically, lay prone on your stomach. With your butt and legs relax do a push-up, extending your elbows as far as you can, while keeping your hips on the ground. Do at least ten as long as you don't have any radiating symptoms or increased pain. If anything it should just feel like a pressure at the end-range of movement and relief when you return to the bottom position. Without getting into it too much, you can basically milk a disc into place depending on the severity of the bulge. We live our lives in flexion, constantly bending over, sitting in slumped postures, etc. where eventually it takes a toll and eventually a person can bulge/rupture/etc. a disc as the disc wall weakens over time. This is further complicated with bodybuilding with the deadlifts/squats we do. I think more people should be doing prone extensions after deadlifts/squats more so as a preventative/maintenance measure, which I have added to my routine.

    Again I am just giving you a general technique you can try to see if it works. I see disc-related problems often in the clinic and an extension-principle gets the majority of people better that don't require surgery. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions as I might miss any updates in this thread (not on here that often).
    Thaks for that info.
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    Great stuff on this thread. I've been dealing with some back pain and it's interesting to hear some different opinions on treatment. I've been going to a chiropractor with some positive results but nothing great. Might have to go to a PT instead.
    The juice is worth the squeeze.

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    Originally Posted by mc- View Post
    In working with our athletes we do an increasing amount of daily mobility, balance and vision practice. It's amazing how many very specific seeming pains just seem to disappear by working with the nervous system's senory-motor hierarchy of vision, balance, proprioception.
    What exactly is this "vision practice"?
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    Originally Posted by JeepCreeper View Post
    What exactly is this "vision practice"?
    Depends on the assessments. Eyes have muscles with rom like joints. Eyes don't always sync up for target acquisition
    Vision is also cognitive processing and that relates to cognitive load which relates to effect on performance
    Vision is also binocular and if the brain is having issues with image mismatch that can be problematic for performance

    So understanding vision, how to assess vision as opposed to eye sight and how to practice to improve vision can have profound and immediate effects on performance, including strength performance

    There are a few books with the title sports vision if you're interested

    So in my practice, most of the athletes I work with but ESP lifters and bb'ers do vision work. It's amazing how many strength athletes really don't like ball sports. When we get into vision assessments, this becomes utterly understandable and addressable and sad cuz of all the missed opportunities for sports fun having being hell in school instead. But I digress


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