In the last month, while watching me move things around and pick things up, two different clients have commented about my back health, implying picking relatively light things up and down from the floor might somehow be harmful. I was perplexed by their statements, especially since I consider myself lucky to be in a vocation where regular movement is part of the job (or maybe it’s my mildly OCD desire to have an uncluttered workspace that results in moving steps, kettlebells, and bolsters around regularly).
It turns out, when you bend over to pick something up, you are using a combination of trunk and hip movement to accomplish the task.* There are many different ways to pick something off of the floor; I vary the way I pick things up throughout the day because variability is good when it comes to movement.
The trouble with thinking bending over to pick things up is bad for your back is it changes the way you perform this action. Being afraid of a movement can lead to muscle guarding, limiting range of motion, and breath holding when you actually go to perform that task.
Maybe it’s not picking things up that’s bad for our backs. Maybe it’s fear, anxiety, and a general mistrust that the body is strong enough to support us.
*Abstract here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16549091