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Are You Bending Correctly?

I mention this NPR article (The Lost Art of Bending Over: How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines) to anyone with back pain. To anyone who bends to wash their face, to pick up groceries, or parents bending over to pick up little ones. Especially to soon-to-be parents who will be bending over 100+ times a day/night to tend to their dear bundles.

You'd think something as ordinary as bending over would come naturally to us.

"Almost everyone in the U.S. bends at the stomach… our backs curve into the letter "C" — or, as Couch says, "We look like folded cashews."

“But in many parts of the world, ... you see something very different… We would pass women working in their gardens. The women had striking silhouettes: They were bent over with their backs nearly straight. But they weren't squatting with a vertical back. Instead, their backs were parallel to the ground. They looked like tables.

“After returning home, I started seeing this "table" bending in photos all around the world — an older woman planting rice in Madagascar, a Mayan woman bending over at a market in Guatemala and women farming grass in northern India. This bending seemed to be common in many places, except in Western societies.”

Back specialist Dr. Stuart McGill explains: When you hinge at the hip, the bending occurs at the hip joint and your spine can stay in a neutral position, while the hips and upper legs support your body weight. When you bend at the waist, the back curves, putting stress on the spine.

Do your back a favor (or do as a toddler does, because they still know how to hip-hinge!) and practice this lost art.

How To 'Table' Bend

To hip hinge: 1. Place your feet about 12 inches apart. 2. Keep your back straight. 3. As you bend your knees, allow your pubic bone to move backward. 4. Fold over by allowing your pubic bone to slide through your legs, down and back.

(Read on to see how you're probably also sitting wrong!)


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