Whether you are picking up a feather or a sack of potatoes; the principles of bending over and reaching to the floor are the same. Always remember that your spine is not designed to bend into a 90 degree angle. There is no flexibility in the spine. It is your legs that need the movement and not your spine.

When you see something that needs to be picked up from the floor; you’re immediate reaction should be to bend your knees. If your bend your knees just a little – meaning more than 15 degrees of flexion; your pelvis will rotate, so that your spine sits back into a relaxed position with no muscles holding the position tightly forward.

Then as you reach down to pick up the feather, your back will still be in a straight and aligned position, but you must at all costs keep ALWAYS keep your legs flexed. Picking anything up heavier than a feather means that you must always use the principles of lifting, as shown under those guidelines given under health and safety.

The object must always be central to your body and your legs are flexed into a semi-crouched. This means that when you lift the object up, your legs are taking the weight and not your spine. While your legs are flexed your back will always be in alignment; so this is an important principle to create that becomes an automatic habit.

A good way to create this position is to learn to ride a bicycle and I promise you that you will automatically rotate your hips as flex those knees, as this is how you sit to move your legs on a bicycle. I have ridden a bicycle for years and do not have a car. Admittedly I am living in the warmest part of Canada for living through a winter, which means that I can usually cycle all the year round.

The principles of picking up anything from the floor, whether it be large or small are always the same; that prevent stress on your spine. Always, always bend your knees first. Keep your arms in front and central to your body, so that the weight is equal on both sides. When your knees are bent over 15 degrees, your pelvis will rotate and your back will move into a relaxed position called a “relaxed hold”. Then as you reach for the object, your back will be straight.

Learn to ride a bicycle, as not only will you find the right position for the “pelvic tilt” position; cycling will actually strengthen your leg, so that you have power and strength in the quadriceps muscle, in preparation for any bending or lifting that you may have to do in the future.

Movement of the body is based upon the principles of understanding the mechanics of movement, by knowing which part of the body to move first and how to move safely; rather than making an automatic movement that seems easy, but does not benefit your body!

Author's Bio: 

The author Gail McGonigal is a trained Occupational Therapist with a Master’s degree in Health Promotion, but suffered viral encephalitis in 1985, so that she was unable to work any more, due to residual cognitive deficits. Instead she has set up a business called Active Living Solutions Ltd. http://www.activelivingsolutions.net by creating a niche market in comfortable, ergonomic daily living products for baby boomers. This changes disability products to enabling products for people suffering aches and pains; as they would not classify themselves as disabled. The goal is to make these products available in any store, so they empower more positive self-help thinking; instead of around disability and negative images of wheelchairs and incontinence pads. Gail is starting by selling ergonomic chairs for people with special needs, such as obesity, very petite consumers and others with specific medical problems. She has designs of her own to create, which she will progress on to when she has the funding to move forward with her business.