Spare your spine and use your hips

We have all been told that to take care of the lower back, we should lift with the legs and not the back. But really, what does that mean? It means – bend in your hips, “hinge” your hips and knees rather than flex in your waist or spine.  This same advise, should also be used when getting in or out of a chair or into and out of your car, up and down from bed, bending to wash your face or brush your teeth.

Remember when flexing your back, that it is most vulnerable in the mornings. This is when the disc is thickest and therefore most at risk. And anyone with a complaint of lower back pain knows that it is often worse in the mornings.

Practice the spine sparing hip hinge

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees and feet pointing slightly outward just in front of a chair or the arm-rest of your sofa.
  • Keeping the spine in neutral – that is keeping the slight curve at the lumbar spine – bend the hips and knees, to sit down in the chair.
  • Move the pelvis back but keep the chest and upper back lifted and high. Don’t look down or bend in the lower back.

A. shows the getting into and out of a chair with the back protected


McGill S. Low back disorders, 2nd ed 2007

Liebenson C. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (2003) 7(3), 151-152

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