How To Reach Down Without Throwing Out Your Back

The tides are turning. Little by little we are getting away from restricting movement and activities after injury and on towards facilitating the ability to perform those movements with good mechanics. Every bone and muscle in your body has its function. As soon as we tell people to stop doing this activity or avoid this movement, those joints become dusty and shelved. Chain reactions  can move throughout the body with compensations based off avoidance due to different movement patterns. 

One of the most common and feared movement is bending. Most people sustain bulging discs and throw their "back out" from this seemingly harmless movement. Well the truth is, the movement is harmless. What is harmful is the position we are in when we reach down. If you are one of the fearful people who use a golf lean or squat down to pick something up, there is good news. With proper flexibility and some body awareness, you could be reaching down in no time!

Give this a try: When bending forward, put your hands on the most prominent part of your pelvic bone in the front. Are they even? Is one more prominent than the other? When you reach down, does one bone get even more displaced. This can be due to pelvic instability, hip mobility or poor movement patterns. By reducing the asymmetry and bending over with an even pelvis and mobile hips, our backs have nothing to worry about!


Dr. Joshua Mazalian, DPT, OCS, CSCS is the owner of JAM Sports and Spine in Los Angeles and specializes in sports and orthopedic physical therapy. You can reach him on Twitter @jamsportsPT and Facebook as well as email at