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Squat to Save your Back?

“Oh my gosh, I’m going to get tired if I have to do that multiple times a day!”

We’re talking about squatting here, but let me give you the backstory (pun intended).

I was recently part of a team project that involved “5S Methodology” which is a way to organize spaces so the workplace can be efficient, effective, and safe (click the link because you’ll likely want to “5S” your wallet, your garage, your home, your everything).

During the 5S, I noticed that my associates were having to pull hard to open some large drawers and having to use brunt force to close these large drawers, sometimes using the side of their hip to close them.

The drawers were an awkward height no matter how short or how tall the associate was (they ranged from 5’ - 6’4” tall) and no matter how you approached the drawer you had to bend over, straight legged because your knees hit the drawer, and lift the items using your low back. YIKES!

Having suffered from back issues for the last 18 years, I immediately said

“Hold up! Why are we doing this to ourselves? Can we just get rid of these and put shelves and doors on?”

The general consensus was a resounding “Yes, let’s do that!” “I hate having to pull those open” “It’s hard to pull those open. They’re hard to close, too” etc.

While we were making plans for the change, one associate brought up that we would still be bending over to retrieve the items even with shelving as a replacement.

It’s true that anything lower that waist-height is likely going to require either a bend at your waist or a bend at your knees.

I told the group that they now had the option of how they wanted to move their bodies instead of having to only bend at the waist, straight legged.

  1. They could partially bend their legs and bend at the waist to ease their back strain OR

  2. They could just do a squat to grab the items because that is the most ergonomic and safest for their back.

I also added that “squats are good for you”.

The young 20 somethings looked at my 40 something face with a look of bewilderment. [ Squats? Like...are you kidding me? ]

As I demonstrated picking up items and putting them back while doing squats, the looks on their faces didn’t change. So, I tried to explain that are bodies are meant to squat. Our butts, hams, and glutes are all meant to work to help support our back for a nice long happy and healthy life.

I said, “I know no one is in love with squats, but it is a tool for you to live your best life without pain.”


And then...

“Oh my gosh, I’m going to get tired if I have to do that multiple times a day!”

To which I said,

“Yes, but your back won’t hurt.”

There are always small things we do in our everyday lives that we don’t notice or don’t realize cause us pain. The pain isn’t usually immediate, it can happen over the course of months or years. And when we realize what is causing us pain, we typically ponder whether it’s worth it to change our behavior...especially when it comes down to bringing “squats” into your life :)

I challenge you to take a fresh look at how you do the little things in your

everyday life.

  • How are you standing/holding your body up?

  • Where are you bending from on your body?

  • How are you picking items up from the ground?

  • How are you reaching for items?

Think about how you can apply your Pilates practice to help you live a better life and maybe a pain free life.

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