Spinal Decompression Techniques

           One of my favorite recovery methods for the lower back is spinal decompression. Traditionally, spinal decompression refers to neural impingement therapy for conditions such as herniated discs. However, in the context of the strength and conditioning field, spinal decompression simply refers to stretching or spacing the vertebrae.

          These techniques can be used by anyone, but they can be particularly helpful for strength athletes like weightlifters and powerlifters due to the repeated stress on their lower backs.

          One decompression technique is inversion therapy, or hanging upside down. This can be accomplished with thick resistance bands, as shown by powerlifter Donnie Thompson here:

           Inversion therapy can also be done with an inversion table. They can be purchased online and in sporting goods stores starting around $100.

Inversion Therapy for Athletes

           Another very simple variation of this is hanging from a pull up bar, either with or without added weight. Weight can be added with a pull up/dip belt or by holding a weight between your feet. This can also be a good shoulder stretch, as explained by coach DeFranco in the video below:

           The cobra pose, which is often used in yoga, is another great method for stretching and lengthening the spine:

Cobra Pose

          Whether from heavy lifting or just the everyday forces of gravity, our spines are constantly being compressed. To decompress, we can use the techniques listed above. Spinal decompression can be performed with or without equipment, and can benefit everyone. Find the techniques that feel best for you and use them as a regular part of your mobility/recovery work.

Even Batman knows the importance of spinal decompression!

Even Batman knows the importance of spinal decompression!