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  1. Aug 2020
    1. in many parts of the world, people don't look like cashews when they bend over. Instead, you see something very different. I first noticed this mysterious bending style in 2014 while covering the Ebola outbreak. We were driving on a back road in the rain forest of Liberia and every now and then, we would pass women working in their gardens. The women had striking silhouettes: They were bent over with their backs nearly straight. But they weren't squatting with a vertical back. Instead, their backs were parallel to the ground. They looked like tables. After returning home, I started seeing this "table" bending in photos all around the world — an older woman planting rice in Madagascar, a Mayan woman bending over at a market in Guatemala and women farming grass in northern India. This bending seemed to be common in many places, except in Western societies. "The anthropologists have noted exactly what you're saying for years," says Stuart McGill, at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, who has been studying the biomechanics of the spine for more than three decades. "It's called hip hinging," McGill says. "And I've spent my career trying to prove it's a better way of bending than what we do."