A movement so practical it can save lives.
The lumbar carry, like most other human body carries, can be a lot of fun! Though it is not reserved to carrying people, it is mostly used when someone can’t walk at all and needs to be transported a certain distance.
Similar to the cross-shoulders (aka “fireman”) carry, this particular technique allows the assisted person to be carried with no effort at all on their part, which is very useful when the person is very weak, or even unconscious.
Note: In the latter case, the method for placing the victim on the back is different than the example shown below.
Because the weight of the carried body is closer to the center of gravity of the carrier, it allows the carrying of a heavy person (i.e. relative to your weight and strength), along with more stable movement on uneven grounds. But the trade-off is that it is less easy to hold a firm and reliable grip on the victim’s body.
Keep in mind that this technique is not ideal for wooded or narrow areas, but works very well on open grounds. This is because of the transversal, “cross” like position of the victim’s body in relation to the carrier’s body.
Here’s how to perform it…
Begin by standing next to your partner. If you are on your partner’s left side, hold his/her left wrist with your left hand (and inversely if you are on their right side).
Step forward, placing your foot between your partner’s feet, slightly in front of them. Pull your partner’s arm around your neck, while sliding your other arm all the way across his upper back, hand reaching behind his armpit.
In a Judo-like motion, step sideways again, placing your foot slightly beyond his external foot, driving and engaging your hips far sideways, while maintaining contact with your partner’s body. You should have a firm grip on his arm that is around your neck. Your other arm should be firmly wrapped around his back, the hand grasping the inside of his armpit. Finally, the surface of your lower back should be pushing against his abdomen.
Note: See the final photo below for an example of performing this step inefficiently.
Bend your knees and lean forward while pulling your partner’s body forward to load him on your lumbar area. Since you cannot see his body, you must feel his position and do your best to balance his body onto yours and align his center of gravity with yours, which will be essential as you walk. At this stage, you can adjust his position by briefly pushing off your legs (as if you wanted to jump) and either moving your waist or moving him with your arms.
After having secured a balanced position of his body on your lower back, your can “posture up” with a straight back but without fully standing up, so you can prevent gravity from trying to slide his body down or having to resist the pull of his body with enormous tension in your arms.
This is a view of how this posture looks from behind. Note the weight distributed efficiently. You are now ready to walk without unnecessary expense of energy.
With the weight secured, you can begin to walk, one foot in front of the other.
Here is an example of an inefficient technique, where the position of the hips and waist is incorrect. Trying to load someone’s body from this position will be ineffective, or will cause you to waste precious time and energy.
- In preparation for the Lumbar Carry, get plenty of practice with your deadlift and other weighted carry techniques (e.g. chest carry, shoulder carry, etc.) to build a foundation of skill and conditioning.
- When you’re ready to practice the Lumbar Carry, start with a partner who is about the same body weight as you, or lighter.
- Maintain a neutral spine, breathing into your diaphragm, and experiment with the angle of your torso to find a comfortable, stable position.
- Check the area where you are carrying your partner for any dangers that may be present (e.g. sharp, slippery, unstable objects or surfaces).
There are many ways to progress the basic lumbar carry to make it more difficult and adaptable. For example, you can carry your partner faster and/or over longer distances. You can also carry them uphill, downhill, or over uneven terrains. You can carry them over, under, or around obstacles (e.g. under tree branches, through door ways, etc.). You could balance on something or simply carry a heavier person. With a little creativity, you can always seek higher levels of adaptability and skill!
Did I mention the lumbar carry was FUN to do? So, find yourself a partner that is about your size, weight and strength, so that you can switch roles every few steps and master the technique!
Note: This article contains material from Erwan Le Corre’s upcoming book, The Practice of Natural Movement.
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