Annals of Catastrophic Posture: LifeLabs Edition


three young girls do forward bend while instructor watches
This poster demonstrates unhealthy bending. So why was it hanging in my local LifeLabs?



Why is back pain epidemic in our culture? Could our posture have anything to do with it?

And what does it mean that even health care providers don’t recognize harmful posture when they see it?

You tell me.

This photo of young girls taking part in “healthy” outdoor activity under adult supervision hangs in my local LifeLabs office. Also in the same series of photos: a white-haired couple looking out over a mountain landscape, at the end of a hike, arms raised in triumph, and a young woman tying up her shoes at the foot of a forest trail.

Whenever I need a blood test, I try to sit on the same side of the room as the poster of the girls, so I can’t see them. Otherwise, it’s like a train wreck. I can’t help staring at it.

All three of them are bending at the waist, the worst thing you can do to your back. It pinches the discs in the front, and overstretches them in the back. The girl furthest back has reversed her lumbar curve so completely that she’s as humped as a camel. But all of them look weak and tight, and they have spines that more commonly seen on women 70 years their senior.

How is it that no one saw this? Not the photographer, not the designer, and not the committee that approved this image as an example of healthy behavior that people waiting for tests should look to for inspiration.

The simple answer: no one saw it because in our culture, catastrophic posture is so common we don’t recognize it for what it is

spinefulness street vendor good bending
Jean Couch photo.


Happily, there’s a safer way to bend, and it’s not hard to learn how.

This Honduran street vendor in Santa Fe hinges from his hip creases and bends his knees. His back stays in one straight line. Instead of courting back injury, he’s strengthening his abdominals, stretching his hamstrings and keeping his hips flexible. In other words, while bending, he’s remaining young and pain-free.

 Learn more about how to live your life without back pain. Join me for an Introduction to Spinefulness: 90 minutes to a more comfortable life, Wednesday, October 2, 6 to 7:30 pm.

To register send me an email at Session cost is $25. Hold you space by pre-paying, by e-transfer or credit card. (If you want to use a credit card, email me and I’ll send you an invoice.)