contraindications for back block and sequence

by Rick Harvest

Hello there Sarah or whoever it is receives these enquiries
I am a yoga teacher
I regularly teach the sequence (of 3 exercises featured on the back block)
and as someone who has spondylolisthesis and pars defect myself I practice them every day

I have found these invaluable for my own practice

My question is this: Are there ANY contraindications for these 3 exercises?
One of the teachers in my studio asked me this tonight

I look forward to hearing anything you may be able to say about this
Rick Harvest

Comments for contraindications for back block and sequence

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Sep 29, 2013
are there any contra-indications to using the BackBlock
by: Sarah says

Hello Rick,
Do you know, in all honesty, there is virtually no contraindications to using the BackBlock - - unless your back is very acutely stirred up. All of the spinal conditions can have their time in acute crisis, in which case you would NOT USE the BackBlock. Instead, you would do gentle spinal appeasing which is rocking the knees to your chest, spinal rolling, all lower abdominal workouts and perhaps even short term medication. You can read here all about spinal appeasing
I say routinely to my patients that if their back is unaccountably stirred up, then it's a good idea to lay off – anything up to 10 days – and meanwhile just do steps 2 and 3 of the three steps BackBlock routine.
The only actual spinal condition where I wouldn't use the BB is cancer of the spine itself (having said that, I have had patients with this very sad diagnosis who swear that only through gentle decompression with the BB can they get relief).
The spinal conditions where people get particularly alarmed about using the BB is rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis (low bone density) but I say particularly in these conditions I would use it! You know yourself Rick, that with spondylitisthesis – another of the conditions people like to get alarmed about – spinal decompression affords relief. Indeed it is often the ONLY way of getting relief!
What I would say however is that the passive hyperextension over the block MUST be followed by knees rocking and lower abs. As a yoga devotee myself I am often alarmed that teachers forget to make the spine more comfortable again – which is largely what steps 2 & 3 are designed to achieve – after the passive hyper-extension. I think perhaps too, they often stay in the hyperextension position to long, rather than doing repeated shorter steps.
I hope this helps and I'm sorry for the delay.
Just before you go, here is another link:
some scientific data about what the BB is aiming to achieve

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