Lateral Flexion

By | January 19, 2015

The graceful movements of a ballerina beautifully demonstrate the spine's ability to flex laterally.

The graceful movements of a ballerina beautifully demonstrate the spine’s ability to flex laterally.

Pure lateral flexion is one of the least utilized and weakest movements of the spine. It occurs evenly throughout the thoracic and lumbar spine. The most common malady associated with lateral flexion is degenerative scoliosis, which in most cases also involves a rotatory component as well. In can be caused by compression fractures or by muscular imbalances that pull the spine out of alignment. Because of the relative weakness of the muscles of pure lateral flexion it is not a prominent part of many sports. Probably the best example of lateral flexion is ballet. I would like to say word about ballet dancers. I first cared for ballet dancers as and intern at the Roosevelt Hospital in New York and for two more years as a house officer. One of the orthopedic surgeons on staff was the “Team Physician” for the New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theater as well as almost every visiting ballet company in the world. I have cared for professional dancers off and for the last 35 years. These people are among the most superb athletes in the world. I have seen them dance on acute fractures and sprains. Their work ethic is amazing. When it comes to rehabilitation they are a physical therapist’s dream come true. The one thing that I have not seen in them is back problems. It is not that they don’t have pain, but their answer to pain is the ballet bar. More flexibility, more strength equals less pain. If only the rest of my patients here at Schlesinger Pain Centers felt that way.


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