It has been estimated that 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives (1). In fact, low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide according to the Global Burden of Disease. With staggering statistics such as these it has become ever more important to not just treat back pain but to teach those with back pain how they can help themselves. This is a 10 part series in which I will discuss some of the most common habits that lead to back pain and what you can do about them.
In part 1, we are going to discuss one of the most prevalent habits in the modern world:
Too much sitting
Think about it, you spend most of your life sitting. You’re probably sitting right now (that’s a freebie since I know you’re reading this). You sit at your desk and work, you sit at home and watch TV, you sit at your computer or with your tablet/phone and read this blog (thank you for that), you sit in your car to go home or work where you will sit again!
All of this sitting is, simply put, no good. Sitting puts extra pressure on the discs of your spine which can lead to spinal and/or disc degeneration, disc tears and disc herniations. In addition, the muscles of your back are put in a lengthened/ strained position and the muscles in front of your body are put in a shortened/ tightened position. The body is an amazing thing, it adapts to stresses that we put on it. This adaptability gives us the uncanny ability to heal but can be harmful when given sustained and/or repetitive input such as sitting. The muscles will adapt to the input they are given and remain in a more tightened state in front while staying lengthened and strained in the back. This leads to less spinal support while pulling us forward into a slouched posture. Needless to say, it is far easier to injure these tissues that are already under so much stress.
So what can you do about it?
Obviously, I don’t mean entirely. What I do mean is stand up and walk around more often. Make it a point to stand up every 30 minutes to 1 hour. Some people get up and get water during this time. (This might be a good option for those of you who have a hard time drinking enough water throughout the day. The recommended amount is half your body weight in ounces, so a 160 lbs man would need to drink 80 oz of water a day). If you’re watching TV, use those commercial breaks! I don’t know too many people who sit with full attention while watching their local car lot commercial anyway so why not use this time?
To add a little something to your standing time you can add some back bends. Why? Because it’s the opposite of what you are doing in your chair! This is how you pull this simple but oh so effective maneuver off: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. With your hands in the center of the arch of your low back, roll your pelvis forward to maintain center of gravity (so you don’t fall!) and lean back. Let your head fall back and really lean back (reverse all that sitting!). You can perform this as a stretch by holding for 30 seconds or more like an exercise by performing repetitions of 10-15. (Back bends are part of a research proven and effective diagnosis and treatment method known as the McKenzie Method).
*It is important that you discuss any new exercises with a professional before starting them. This is especially true if you have a pre-existing condition*
Feel free to leave any comments and questions or contact me directly at email@example.com. If you would like further instruction with the exercise above just ask! I am always happy to help. Part 2 in this series will be on a very closely related topic, posture! One of my favorite subjects as a chiropractor.
Dr. Phillip Gamble
Chiropractic Physician | TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor
White Oak Family Wellness
405 Illinois Ave. Ste B, St. Charles, IL 60174
Phone: (630) 442-0057 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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1. Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.
White Oak Family Wellness
405 Illinois Ave #2b
St Charles, IL 60174