The simple toe touching exercise in standing does not need much elaboration. The patient, standing with the feet about thirty centimeters apart, bends forward sliding the hands down the front of the legs in order to have some support and to measure the degree of flexion achieved. On reaching the maximum flexion allowed by pain or range, the patient returns to the upright position. The sequence is repeated about ten times, should be performed rhythmically, and initially with caution and without vigour. It is important to ensure that in between each movement the patient returns to neutral standing.
Fig. Flexion in standing.
Flexion in standing differs from flexion in lying in various ways. Naturally, the gravitational and compressive forces act differently in both situations. In flexion in standing the movement takes place from above downwards, and the lower lumbar and lumbo-sacral joints are placed on full stretch only at the end of the movement. In addition, the lumbo-sacral nerve roots are pulled through the intervertebral foramina.
Thus, flexion in standing can be used as a progression of flexion in lying and may affect dysfunction as well as derangement. It can also be used specifically to stretch the scarring in an adherent nerve root or in nerve root entrapment.
If, in attempts to recover function following derangement, flexion in standing is performed too soon, the patient may rapidly worsen. This will happen even when there is no nerve root involvement. The same patient may safely perform flexion in lying and experience no increase in pain. It would appear that the gravitational stresses during flexion in standing are sufficient to cause an increase in derangement by further bulging of the disc wall.
Flexion in standing is an important procedure in the treatment of anterior derangement situations (Derangement Seven), as it causes a posterior movement of the nucleus within the disc wall.