Keepin’ the Curve

When a client comes in with neck or low back pain, part of my work is to reduce the trigger that is causing the problem. More than often, posture is a contributor. As in my previous post, bad posture will stretch certain muscles and weaken them (example again is that the bicep muscle on your arm is stronger when the elbow is at 90 degrees, rather than when it is straighter). With the low back pain, I will ask the client to lean forward as if they are picking something up, and as most of us do, they don’t bend at the knees and recruit them,  but more importantly they don’t keep the inward curvature of the low back. Owww, look at those poor stretched low back muscles with no help from the legsYay, look at the flattened back, strengthening the back muscles and the right leg helping out








photo-256The first picture shows me picking up a box with knees straight and all the bend going on in the low back. With enough weight and repetition, this can result in disc bulging and nerve irritation so it’ realllly good to avoid this if you lift quite a lot during the day. 

The second picture, I am bending the knees with one leg forward to help to take some of the weight away from the back and consciously keeping my back flat or with as much curve as possible so I’m at least not stretching those low back muscles and opening the vertebrae leaving myself open to disc issues. 

The third picture is the best way to pick up something where the upper body remains as vertical as possible and the legs and knees do all the work. Some clients have reported though that it is difficult to do with bad knees. Find out what is best for you. 

Generally, tight hip muscles and hamstrings will make the low back bend early as well but most of all it’s just habit and as I have learned, the body will let you know in no uncertain terms that it isn’t happy with you. 

It’s interesting that now I am careful with how I lean forward, people ask me if I have hurt my back, as if a back issue is the only thing that has made me move correctly. In my case, this is true, but interesting anyways.


The thing with application of a continuous load on a weakened muscle (poor posture in sitting or standing) is that it is probably manageable and doesn’t present acutely, but then it is the sudden movements that often are the straws that break the camel’s back. It is similar to running a marathon (probably manageable) but then having to run a 100 meter dash at the end of it would put some muscles into acute trauma with pain and spasm.  An example is sitting poorly in front of a computer all day, and our muscles are exhausted from holding us up, then at the end of the day doing some heavy lifting, and that is what will cause the issues. It is not so much the lifting or sitting poorly separately, but put them together and this can cause problems.

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