NPR

Lost Art Of Bending Over: How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines

No, we're not talking about squatting. We're talking about a way to bend over that's nearly disappeared in our culture. And it could be one reason why back pain is so common in the U.S.
Rice farmers in Madagascar pan for gold to supplement their income. Source: Samantha Reinders for NPR

To see if you're bending correctly, try a simple experiment.

"Stand up and put your hands on your waist," says Jean Couch, who has been helping people get out of back pain for 25 years at her studio in Palo Alto, Calif.

"Now imagine I've dropped a feather in front of your feet and asked to pick it up," Couch says. "Usually everybody immediately moves their heads and looks down."

That little look down bends your spine and triggers your stomach to do a little crunch. "You've already started to bend incorrectly — at your waist," Couch says. "Almost everyone in the U.S. bends at the stomach."

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR6 min read
India Set To Welcome Trump, Whose First Stop Will Be In Modi's Home State Of Gujarat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host Trump for a two-day visit starting Monday. As Gujarat's chief minister, Modi oversaw impressive economic growth. But he also presided over a dark chapter.
NPR3 min read
Jessica Simpson Talks Of Alcohol Abuse, Finding Herself Again In Memoir 'Open Book'
"There's never been a moment in my life that I've been more honest with myself," the pop singer tells NPR. "I finally feel free of everything that I was holding secret and holding to myself."
NPR5 min read
Hormone Blocker Sticker Shock: Kids Drug Costs 8 Times More Than One For Adults
Two nearly identical drug implants have very different prices. The one for kids has a list price of $37,300. For adults, it's $4,400. A dad fought for his daughter to be able to get the cheaper drug.