Penalty For Failing To Bend Over Properly: Back Pain!

Dog walkers of NYC are responding to increased fine from $450-$4500 and are diligently cleaning up after their dogs.  Unfortunately while doing so, they've caught trying too hard to "bend properly".  Could this sign be responsible? 


Why is the Red Stick Person on the sign bending like that?

Let's find out!

Posture Police: Excuse me Red Stick Person. . .

Red Stick Person:  Good evening officer! 

Posture Police:  I'd like to speak with you regarding how you're bending over to clean up after your dog.

Red Stick Person: Isn't this how you are supposed to bend?  I've always heard that I should bend like that in order to avoid hurting my back - bend the knees, not the back and keep the back straight, right?

Posture Police:  Yes . . . and no.  Let's start by talking about what the "major joints" are - HIPS, KNEES, ANKLES.  If you bend at these joins as opposed to bending your back, you are less likely to put stress on the smaller joints formed by the vertebrae of your spine.

Red Stick Person:  Does that mean that I must always bend at the major joints or else I'll be bending wrong and hurting yourself?

Posture Police:  No.

Red Stick Person:  Does that mean that if I always bend at the major joints that I'll be bending correctly and never hurt myself?

Posture Police:  No.

Red Stick Person:  Uh-oh, so how do I know if I'm bending correctly and not hurting myself?

Posture Police: Pay attention to how you are using yourself regardless of your bending position.

Red Stick Person:  Uh . . .What do you mean "using myself"?

Posture Police:  I mean are you compressing in on yourself?  That would be an example of poor use.  Are you you compressing your spine?  Also poor use.

Red Stick Person: In which situation?  Am I compressing when I bend my major joints or when I bend my back?

Posture Police:  In either situation.  How you use yourself permeates all situations, positions and movements.

Red Stick Person:  So bending at the major joints can help me to avoid back injury, but what really counts is how I'm using myself!

Posture Police:  You've got it.  Bending at the major joints is what Alexander Technique teachers call "mechanical advantage".  It helps to set up the potential for good use, but it doesn't guarantee good use.

Red Stick Person:  Great!  Um, but how do I know whether or not I'm using myself well?

Posture Police:  Well, you may not know.  Compressing can become a quite habitual and unconscious habit.

Red Stick Person:  Can Alexander Technique lessons help me to identify my unconscious habits?

Posture Police:  Yes!

Red Stick Person:  How?

Posture Police:  By helping you to actually feel how you habitually compress yourself, so you can stop doing that and allow yourself to relax and come up to your full height.

Red Stick Person:  Instead of scrunching myself down?

Posture Police:  That's right.

Red Stick Person:  I'm standing here all day on this sign demonstrating to passers-by that they should clean up after their dogs.  I always see people walking along hunched and squeezed and pulling themselves down.  And some of them try to keep their backs straight when they pick up their dog's poop, but they look so stiff!

Posture Police: I think you've got the idea!

Red Stick Person:  So, where can I find an Alexander Technique teacher?

Posture Police:  You're lookin' at one, Red Stick Person!  Here's another tip.

Red Stick Person: Yes?

Posture Police: Learn from your Red Stick Dog!  Your dog,  like most animals and small children has incredible use!

Red Stick Dog: Woof!

Red Stick Person:  Yes, she hasn't interfered with her natural balance and coordination.

Red Stick Dog:  Woof!  Woof!

Posture Police:  I have one more question.

Red Stick Person:  Yes?

Posture Police:  Why don't you bend your elbows when you scoop your dog's poop?  You look rather stiff!

Red Stick Person:  Doggonit!  I didn't realize that I was straightening my arms like that!  Thanks for cluing me in to how I was holding my arms!  Ahh! That feels much better to let my elbows bend a little!  Hey, did anyone ever tell you that your hat is kind of old-fashioned!

Posture Police:  Ah yes, but some habits I choose not to change, my friend!!!