Bending Over for Back Health

March 25, 2015
Sheena Nadeau

Sitting up straight and standing upright are very important to our health. Even more important is learning how to move while maintaining your spine in its happy upright and aligned position. We tend to injure our lower backs while bending forward from the trunk and lifting or applying some force. No one is taught how to bend from the hips in the way that is best meant for our body’s design.

Bending from the hips allows our bodies to utilize the large and powerful hip extensor muscles to lift and stabilize our trunk, instead of relying on each of the smaller connecting muscles running along the several joints of the spine. This pattern of movement, using the powerful hips instead of making the back overwork, is the Hip-Hinge Mechanism.

Increasing the gluteus muscle (hip extensors) group activation is imperative for low back health. In healthy individuals, hip flexors in the front the hips and thighs should produce half the amount of force that the hip extensors in the back of the hips and thighs can. In those with a history of low back pain, hip flexors are just as strong as hip extensors (glute muscles) (Lemaire, 2013).

This muscular imbalance creates not only increased tension in the low back, but it sets up the entire body for injury from head to toe. Hamstrings and Adductor (inner thigh) muscles have to over compensate for the glute group, working harder and in positions that are not best suited for it to pull from.

To alleviate knee pain, studies have shown that keeping the knee over the ankle and forefoot instead of towards or past the toes, increasing gluteus muscle activation, decreasing quadricep activation 30%, decreasing excessive pressure and force applied to the knee joints (Blackburn, 2009 via Powers, 2010). For this reason, it is ideal to keep the knee lined up closer to the ankle and shifting the trunk forward to increase gluteal activation.

Teach your body how to utilize the Hip-Hinge Mechanism and bend forward pain-free with VerteBar™.

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