When a client of ours does any exercises involving rotation of the spine, her back makes this popping sound. She says it does not hurt but worries about injury during rotation. Even a simple medicine ball or cable PNF or rotation with light weight worries her. She has had X-rays done, and the doctor says she has no visible disk problems and not to worry about the sound. I assume we just need to strengthen her abs, erector spinae. She hates doing planks. Do you have any suggestions on exercises that can help stabilize the spine without rotation?
Thanks for your question! I understand how the popping sound can be frustrating! However, what this probably means is somewhere in the chain of reactions, there is a “hang up.” In simple terms, a part of the team is underworking and a part is overworking, which in turn causes abnormal movement. Our simple solution to this complex problem is to first identify exactly what position your client is in when the popping takes place. Write down the leg position, pelvis position, rib position (in relation to the pelvis) and the shoulder/neck complex. Then assess the quality in which each segment moved. Start to delineate what moved well and what didn’t. You can do this by simply slowing the motion down and have your client explain to you when the popping is taking place – then work backward through the motion.
If you want a simpler route, be sure the ankles, hips and thoracic spine are moving in all three planes of motion. I guarantee there is a rotational deficiency in one or more of these rotational segments. Whatever you do, do not eliminate rotation! If you eliminate rotation from her program, she is heading for an injury since life requires her to rotate (that’s how she gets out of her car to see you). The key is to rotate correctly. So, be sure she rotates through her ankles (subtalar joint), hips and thoracic spine – her back will thank you!