20 Thu

Your lumbar spine: Avoid the pooping dog or pooping duck

Your lumbar spine: Avoid the pooping dog or pooping duck

Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CGFI


I read a lot websites, one of my new favorites is Movement-Rx.  Recently they, featured a post about how to maintain a neutral spine position with weight training.  They used the “pooping duck” and “pooping dog” analogy, which I found interesting.  I’m always looking for new ways to communicate and express correct cueing for movement and positioning.

I’ve written about spine neutral and core stability before.  Getting into a position of too much extension (arching your back) or flexion (rounding out your back), is not great, especially for prolonged static positions or under a load.  Keeping your back in a neutral position is always better, you’re able to create more power and withstand greater loads in this position.

The “pooping dog” is a description of a back that’s rounded and flexed (the pelvis is posteriorly rotated), and the “pooping duck” is the opposite, when your back is hyperextended and ached (the pelvis is anteriorly rotated).  So the next time you’re loading up on squats or deadlifts, or just going to get something out of your car, watch out.

The “pooping dog” is easy to spot, it’s when you’re sitting at your desk and your back is rounded and working on your computer for hours on end.  A flexed spine places the stress on the muscles of your back and can cause acute spasms or even stress on discs and nerves, causing some radiating symptoms into the legs.

The “pooping duck” is not so easy to spot.  A hyperextended back can put a lot of stress on the joints of the spine (facet joints), more compressive force than what should normally be there under load.  A common cue is to keep your back straight and head up, when performing a lift.  But it only address part of the issue.  Sometimes, keeping your back straight and head up causes too much extension in your lumbar spine, totally crushing your facet joints and putting you at risk for lumbar vertebral slippage (spondylolisthesis).  Not good.

So both positions are bad.  They’re both “poopy”.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit us.

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