Spinal Decompression Exercises

spinal compression is ever-present during our daylight hours

Spinal decompression exercises are the mainstay of the Sarah Key Method for self-treatment of low back pain. And don’t be confused here: it doesn’t matter what the diagnosis – all spinal conditions benefit from daily separation of the spinal segments. It is both preventative and therapeutic.  

all discs lose up to 20% of their fluid from spinal compression thru' the day

See how to rehydrate your lumbar discs here. Download here and get right to it.

Why do our backs get painful?

Our discs contain fluid - and when we sit or stand for lengthy periods during the day it squeezes out. That, in a nutshell, is what causes lower discs to degenerate - and in some instances becoming painful. Indolent lifestyles usually mean that discal fluid lost by day doesn't get back sufficiently at night. So the fluid content of our discs steadily declines.

The back problems intensify as the sustained compression of our discs (as we sit slumped at our computers) gradually smothers their metabolic life. The lumbar discs gradually become too sleepy to carry out normal maintenance and repair.  Earlier than any other structure in our body they are the first to break down. Our muscles stiffen up too, as they try to protect the sore patches in the spine, and this too can be a source of pain.

What to do about it - spinal decompression exercises using the Back Block

You will see in the  section on the BackBlock and also on the section on Traction that the Sarah Key spinal decompression exercises are better described as ‘pressure change therapy’ (PCT) because that's exactly what they are. 


The PCT model also involves loading the lumbar spinal segments in a controlled way (by the knees rocking and reverse curl ups see  also ‘The Best Abs Exercises’) and alternating this with passive hyperextension over the BackBlock to create traction.

The variation in pressures stimulates the discs internally which is critical for stimulating the metabolic repair processes. The alternating pressures also help move fluid around inside the discs, squidging stale fluids out and sucking fresh ones in. This boosts their nutrition and day-to-day maintenance.

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Sketch of man holding lower back in pain with product relief information using exercise

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