How to avoid BACK PAIN with reaching/bending

My patients with back pain typically fall into two categories: trauma vs non-trauma. Traumatic injuries can come from a major accident or an easy task done incorrectly (bending down to pick up shoes from the floor and then patient is unable to stand back up). Non-traumatic back pain frequently comes from repetitive poor postures and bad bending/reaching habits.

Based on my posts “How many times per day do you reach to the floor,” the number is likely more than 30 times and may be even higher than 50 for those of you with small children. So how can you modify these RTF’s (reach-to-floors) so as to decrease your risk for back pain, back spasm, back strain or worse?

First, check your back position each time you reach down to the ground or a low surface. You can squat (with your back straight) or use the golfer’s grab (kick 1 leg back behind you). You can sit on a stool or chair. You can kneel. You can get on your hands and knees. You can sit on the floor. Be creative; there are many ways to reach down without straining your back. It simply takes the effort to think twice before you bend.

Next, modify where you place the objects that you use the most to be at an easy-to-reach height. For example, store your dish soap in a decorative container on the counter instead of under the sink. What objects do you have in your lower cabinets, cupboards, drawers and shelves? They should be the ones you use rarely. Anything you use multiple times/day should be easily accessible with minimal reaching required. This is especially true for those of you with back problems (which limit your ability to bend) and knee problems (which limit your ability to squat).

Finally, always give yourself the mechanical advantage. Use your big muscles to do the work they were made for (thigh, buttocks muscles). They are easily able to do the work of lifting so your back does not have to.

Published by lizbnavarr@gmail.com

I am a Physical Therapist and Ergonomics Consultant, based out of Columbia, SC. My passion is to write about and speak about pain/injury prevention. I started Pain Talks as a consulting business in 2018.

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