Stooping to pick things up from a low place (or putting them down) can place considerable strain on the low back. Even if a person is not lifting something heavy the weight of their upper body is still present. If at least half of our body weight is above the waist then our low backs can be lifting approximately 30-45kg even before we carry anything extra!
Leaning forward and lifting with your back (rather than squatting and using your legs) generally requires less mental effort but can put the lower spine at a considerable mechanical disadvantage (see adjacent image). Stooping to lift multiple times daily may result in repetitive low-grade injury to the fibres of the discs / ligaments / muscles of the lumbar spine (weakening without obvious pain). Stooping forward repeatedly may also contribute to poorer posture when standing and sitting.
Done well however, lifting can strengthen and tone your legs and glutes and help protect your back (you may not need to do squats or lunges at the gym anymore!).
How to get it right
- Squatting can be challenging to begin with but will typically get much easier with practice and time
- Squatting down requires (and promotes) flexibility in your knees, ankles and hips. If your knees, ankles or hips become sore with repeated squatting, discontinue and discuss with your Chiropractor
- You can squat like a ‘wicket keeper’ or go down on one knee (see adjacent image)
- If you go down on one knee be sure to alternate sides regularly over the day
- It’s okay to squat on the balls of your feet (see 1st image above) but with practice you may be able to keep your feet flat on the ground (requires considerable calf muscle/ankle flexibility)
- Try to use your glutes as much as your thigh muscles to push up and lower down. It’s good to brace your tummy (core) muscles throughout too
Examples of when to Squat!
- Lifting / lowering babies & children
- Picking up toys / clothes / household items
- Loading / unloading the dishwasher
- Tying shoelaces
- At work
Practice practice practice!
Disclaimer: The information in this article is general in nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional help or advice. Neither Sure Start Chiropractic nor any of its practitioners assume any responsibility for harm or injury to anyone who uses the information, or damage to any equipment. If the user appears to be in pain or discomfort stop the activity and consider discussing this with a spine health professional.