Movement Zones

Movement Zones are used to identify how far you move.

The full range of your movement, indicated by the dark outer edge of the Movement Map can be divided into 4 zones to represent the extent of your movement.

Centre of Movement Circle

Centre of Movement Circle


The midpoint of the Movement Map (X) is usually found when standing upright.

Using only gentle muscle engagement as if a small thread was pulling from the top of your head, your spine should feel like it is relaxed and lengthening. From this position, you should have the greatest available movement in all direction.

The Movement Map refer to YOUR normal flexibility when you are symptom free and not affected by pain or stiffness.





Movement Zones 1 to 4
Movement Zones 1 to 4

Zone 1

indicates movement of up to ¼ of your available movement and is closest to the mid-point of your movement.

This indicates the area of movements where disc compression and physical load in the low back is minimised.
Movement can occur easily with a small amount of force in this zone.
Controlled movement and controlled loading closest to this zone is ideal.

Zone 2

indicates movement of up to ½ of your usual movement.

Zone 3

is up to ¾ of your usual movement.

Zone 4

indicates movement toward the outer end of your normal movement range.

  • This indicates areas of movement close to the extreme of your movement capability.
  • Repeated or sustained movements performed here, places far greater mechanical load and stress on the low back, and increases pressure within the spine.
  • Injuries involving lifting awkwardly usually occur in zone 4.
  • Staying in seated positions for too long usually takes place in zone 4.
  • Improving awareness of when your back moves into this zone can help you to decide to take action and reposition your spine closer to zone 1 prior to lifting or other forms of loading the spine.

Being aware of where the movement of your back occurs within these zones is essential for developing an understanding how to position your back during the Back-in-Rehab Programme and during daily activities. Many people with chronic low back pain are unaware that they often adopt positions near the end of the available movement (in zone 3 and 4).