I recently encountered a neat article about a way people bend in other countries. This isn't the squat we all might have heard of, but instead a way to bend at the hip.
Notice how the back is flat, like a table, not curved? Here's the NPR article on it (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/02/26/587735283/lost-art-of-bending-over-how-other-cultures-spare-their-spines) and a quote on how to do it:
"Stand up and spread your heels about 12 inches apart, with your toes 14 inches apart," she says. "Now, if you are Adam in the Bible, where would you put a fig leaf?"
"Uh, on my pubic bone?" I answer shyly.
"Exactly," Couch says. "Now put your hand right there, on your fig leaf. When you bend, you want to let this fig leaf — your pubic bone — move through your legs. It moves down and back."
So I try it. I put my hand on my pubic bone as a pretend fig leaf. Then as I bend my knees a bit, I allow my fig leaf to move through my legs. A little crevice forms right at the top of my legs and my back starts to fold over, like a flat table.
I find this to be the pefect way to bend over to get eggs out of my duck nesting boxes. The nesting boxes are at ground level, and squatting doesn't work because I need to be OVER the nesting boxes, not in front of them. I used to kind of kneel with my legs against the front of the boxes, and then twist to get eggs and clean the boxes. But, this "hip hinge" works so much better!
Often called the "Asian Squat" because Westerners usually squat on their toes, which is not a stable position.
On the left is the rather crooked and unbalanced, "Western" squat, and the right is an "Asian" squat
If you see a kid 3 and under squatting, you will almost certainly see them doing the "Asian" squat. It's what we naturally do
When I used to clean tables at a preschool, my back would KILL me. I'm hypermobile, so I have to be really careful about my posture. So, I started sqautting while cleaning the tables. I'd look like a crab scurrying around, but my back didn't hurt! And, all that squatting was great for birthing my kids: I squatted them both out! The doctor tried to get me to lie down to push. It hurt so much more, and was so much less effective. Thankfully, the nurse was great and she and my husband just raised me up to squat and the doctor had to deal with it. Bwahahahaha!
Squatting is also great for pulling weeds and gardening in lower garden beds.
Here's a how-to (https://blog.udemy.com/asian-squats/):
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Lower your buttocks while bending your knees until your buttocks touches your heels
Feet are flat on the floor, including the heel.
Your center of gravity is over your feet and belly button. In contrast, the Western squat places more weight forward on the knees and patellar tendon.
Make sure your knees are behind the toes.
Slowly rise out of the squat focusing on the belly button to maintain your balance.
Drinking Bird Bend
Okay, I really don't know what this is actually called, but back when I was in Jr High and getting physcal therapy for back pain, I asked my therapist how I was supposed to keep my back straight while drinking at the drinking fountain. The therapist answer was to bend with one leg out behind me. Since then, I'm just going to pick something light off the ground, I put out one arm and extent the other leg and keep my back, arm and leg in a straight line, kind of like this ballerina, but with the back straight and not curved. See how the edxtended arm and leg are in a straight line?
I actually find this really comfortable (It probably helps that I've been doing it since Jr High, LOL!) and my back is really happy when I do it. I do not, however, use this this posture to pick up anything heavier than, say, 5 pounds.
What are your favorite ways to bend, and when do you use them the most?
Another good thing would be to strengthen the core since that helps make keeping your back straight much easier.
I found that if I "sucked my gut in" while carrying a backpack, my back stopped hurting. I used to have a lot of back pain carrying large, heavy backpacks for school. But, I was only using my back muscles, not my stomach! I found that just the simple act of sucking in my gut tricked me into using my abs, or something. The only thing I know is that it worked, and as long as I continued to suck in my gut, I didn't have pain!
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