"Don't bend at the waist. Bend your knees and keep your back straight. Don't bend forward at the waist with your knees straight. Don't bend and twist."
Is this medical "wisdom"? Many sources with very impressive strings of credentials herald these words.
At The POSTURE Clinic we think differently. We always ask why and we are always treating the cause not the symptoms.
WHY not bend at the waist? Someone in a white coat came up with the idea, that's why. If someone hurt their back bending from the waist, then all bending at the waist is dangerous to health? Maybe poor posture is pandemic due to too much sitting, the technology age and reduction in activity. Maybe humans have lost their proper muscle balance and skeletal alignment.
In the picture to the right, do you see an asymmetrical human body? Do you see one leg positioned differently than the other? Is one foot turning out to the side, like a duck or turning inward like a pigeon? Is the shoulder girdle slanted and unlevel? Is the pelvis tipping up on one side higher than the other side?
If you answered NO to all of these questions, congratulations you are right.
In the picture to the left, do you see a flattened low back curve or a straight spine or the tail bone tucked under the body or the head forward out in space?
If you said NO you are correct. The diagram to the left illustrates the proper shape of the spine and proper position of the pelvis, head and proper position of the whole body from the side view.
Everyone (except 5% of the population) is born with this design position. Over time muscle imbalances develop then the design position is lost. The deviation is not permanent nor is it OK. The design to the left is the most efficient effective way to be in gravity. It produces very little friction and no wear and tear from this position and allows full function.
Are his load bearing joints lined up vertically and horizontally? Has he maintained his optimal design position? NO. Do you think the belief "don't bend at the waist" resulted from people with bad misaligned posture like this person bending at the waist using a misaligned crooked body and getting injured? Then why not promote proper posture and muscle balance and alignment instead of focusing on limiting movement MORE (by "not bending the back or waste)!
The spine, muscles, joints and the whole body for that matter are not fragile. They are only ripe for injury and therefore vulnerable when misaligned.
IF YOUR JOINTS ARE NOT LINED UP AND PELVIS not level AND SPINE NOT STRAIGHT THEN YES, BEND OVER AND YOU might have pain or injury.
If this person to the left bent over at the waist without using his knees what percentage chance does he have of injury?
If you said, "pretty high' or "a lot" - you are right.
If our primary load-bearing joints are not stacked properly, if the spine looses it's original curves and functioning as designed, you bet, there is a much greater chance of injury including back injury.
Here is the same man. Now what do you think? Does he have a pretty good chance of no back injury bending at the waist?
If you said yes, then you are right.
In this position, his joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones are much more balanced and therefore can function without injury.
NEW BELIEF #2: A properly aligned posture is a functionally strong posture which allows bending at the waist.
THE GOLDEN NUGGET:
Here is the take away message.
If your load bearing joints are not stacked and functioning properly, if the curves of your spine have changed, either flattened or become exaggerated or produced other curves, then bending over from the waist could be disasterous.
If your load bearing joints are stacked and functioning properly, you can bend and twist and be free of injury. You can live life without previous limitations. You won't have to live in fear. If you do your work to get yourself back in proper body alignment and work closely with your Posture Therapist, you can be free to move without the threat of injury and limitations. It takes dedication and hard work, but in the end the peace of mind will be worth it.
Come in for a consultation and your Posture Photos and see how your Posture is connected to your pain and what you can do about it.
Catee Ingwersen is a Posture Alignment Specialist trained, certified by the Egoscue University in The Egoscue® Method. She empowers people every day to overcome pain and physical limitations unlike any other healing or medical intervention. Call 772-559-1532 or stop by our Clinic in Vero Beach, Florida to discuss this common sense approach and your individual needs.
Catee Ingwersen is an Egoscue certified Posture Alignment Specialist and Licensed Massage Therapist.