America is known for having chronic lower back pain. And some researchers and doctors who help with back pain think that it might be caused by the way we bend over, a problem other cultures don’t have.
Nearly every American bends over with their head first, looking down and bending at the stomach or waist. By bending the spine in that way, you cause your belly to do a little crunch, and you put unnecessary pressure on the small muscles in your back.
This “cashew” shape we make when bending over is pretty normal to the U.S. However, many other countries practice what Michaeleen Doucleff, health journalist for NBC, calls “tabletop” bending.
Tabletop bending is when people don’t bend at the lower back, they bend at the hip, and there back is flat – not unlike a table. Stuart McGill from the University of Waterloo in Canada says that this type of bending is called “hip hinging,” and he has spent a long majority of his career trying to prove that this is better for our bodies that the way we typically bend.
Breaking Down Table Bending
When you use your hips, your spine stay in a neutral position and your hips and upper legs support your body weight. However, when you bend at the waist, your back curves and you put stress on the spine and in particular on spinal disks.
Spinal disks are little rings of collagen that can be found between each vertebra – this forms a joint. These joins are not made for tons of motion. Instead they work like fabric, and if you keep bending and stretching this piece of “fabric,” the fibers start to loosen up and fray over time. That is where the lower back pain comes in.
Which is why more and more pain specialists are pushing towards table bending, because your hip joint is made for motion, and can take the weight that your lower back cannot.
This type of bending is also great for stretching out the hamstrings. If you have tight hamstrings, you might have a harder time bending this way.
Something important to note is that this type of hip hinging is not totally lost on Americans. In fact, weightlifters use it with deadlifts. Most football players kneel this way on the line of scrimmage. Typically baseball players use it when they are up to bat. See the pattern? Athletes are already familiar with the correct way to bend.
Though there is no definitive proof that hip hinging prevents back pain and injuries, it just intuitively makes sense, just given the way that our spine functions.
Curious on if you’re bending correctly? Stand up and spread your feel about 12 inches apart. Keep your back straight. As you bend your knees, let your pubic bone move backward. Fold over and allow your pubic bone to slide down and back. Keep your back straight. You will feel a pull on your hamstrings. That’s how you know it’s working.
Have more questions about how to potentially reduce your lower back pain? Precision Pain Consultants is committed to giving you the whatever you need for pain management, so contact us today for a consultation.
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