NPR

Lost Art Of Bending Over: How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines

No, we're not talking about squatting. We're talking about a way to bend over that's nearly disappeared in our culture. And it could be one reason why back pain is so common in the U.S.
Rice farmers in Madagascar pan for gold to supplement their income. Source: Samantha Reinders for NPR

To see if you're bending correctly, try a simple experiment.

"Stand up and put your hands on your waist," says Jean Couch, who has been helping people get out of back pain for 25 years at her studio in Palo Alto, Calif.

"Now imagine I've dropped a feather in front of your feet and asked to pick it up," Couch says. "Usually everybody immediately moves their heads and looks down."

That little look down bends your spine and triggers your stomach to do a little crunch. "You've already started to bend incorrectly — at your waist," Couch says. "Almost everyone in the U.S. bends at the stomach."

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