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Why the Single Knee to Chest Exercise Is Bad for Back Pain

Learn how the single knee to chest exercise can make back pain worse from physical therapist Eric Sampson in this Howcast video.


A lot of times in the physical therapy clinic we are asked about different exercises and whether or not they're good or bad for the back.

Depending on whether they recovering from a back injury and where in the recovery they are, there are a lot of exercises that are actually pretty bad for that recovery period.

And one of them is the single knee to chest or single hug to chest. With this exercise the patient is asked to bring a knee up and in. Just one at a time. Usually if there's an injury to the back or an injury to the back that's causing symptoms in that leg on that one side, the patient may think that this would be a good exercise to start doing to help stretch it and alleviate the symptoms.

The problem with the exercise that if it's in the acute or subacute phase of the injury, the spine is actually being pulled in the direction that they probably had the injury in the first place.

So, if they're doing a lot of sitting or bending at the office or at their job or at the gym and they're doing this to try to remedy it, it's not designed to work that way. This is pulling it in the wrong direction so increasing the pressure inside the disk. Inside the joint.

And during the exercise they can feel minimal to no pain. But unfortunately due to the stress on the tissue it could cause some pain later on in the day.

So, there is a time and a place for this exercise. It's usually not in the early stages of recovering from a back condition. It's called single knee chest.

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