Simple Back Pain Relief TipsJuly 16, 2019
When it comes to getting some much needed back pain relief, the fact that so many back problems are self-inflicted can give us cause to rejoice. If they are self-inflicted, after all, that means we have at least a chance of stopping them from happening to us. The effect of bad habits in the way we move – and stay still – can be felt immediately, or build up over weeks, months, even years. The good news is that they can be corrected by good posture and the right exercise.
Even when we’re not moving – sometimes because we’re not – we are exerting pressure and stress on our backs. A Swedish orthopedic surgeon, world-renowned for his research on the spine and his findings related to the amount of pressure exerted on the disks when we are in different positions.
“Measurements of pressure over the last twenty years in more than one hundred individuals have demonstrated how the load on the lumbar disk varies with the position of the subject’s body, and during the performance of various tasks, both in standing and in sitting,” he notes in one study, published in Spine magazine. “Compared with the pressure of load in the upright standing position, reclining reduces the pressure by 50 to 80 percent, while unsupported sitting increases the load by 40 percent, forward leaning and weight lifting by more than 100 percent, and the position of forward flexion and rotation by 400 percent.”
In other words, sitting is more stressful to our backs than standing, leaning forward is worse, and twisting worse still. And whatever position we’re in, poor posture exacerbates the problem.
There is a better way. In fact, there are many of them. Here, some of the best:
While You’re Sitting
Know how you got there. To get into a chair, bend your knees and lower yourself onto its front edge, then scoot back. To get up, reverse the process by placing one foot forward and moving to the front of the seat. Use a rocking motion to stand.
Don’t slouch. Slouching – with its characteristic hunched back and shoulders – overstretches muscles and ligaments, yet it is our natural tendency as our back muscles get tired, especially in a chair that doesn’t provide proper support. Stay in touch with your posture, and readjust.
Sit back for support. Whatever it is that keeps you on the edge of your seat will keep your back from feeling its best. Keep the small of your back against the back rest. If the chair doesn’t provide sufficient support (or is too deep to allow your knees to bend over the front edge when you’re in it), place a lumbar cushion, pillow or rolled towel at the small of your back.
Make adjustments. Many office chairs allow adjustments to be made to height, seat, back, tilt, even armrests. For desk work that calls for upright sitting, knees should be level with or slightly lower than the level of your hips. Arm rests should allow you to comfortably rest your forearms with your elbows bent more or less at right angles, and shoulders relaxed, without interfering with the tasks at hand.
Feet flat on the floor. If your feet can’t reach the floor and your chair isn’t adjustable, foot rests are an often-recommended option. That may be fine if you’re putting up your feet for an extended period, but if you’re at the office, a footrest can discourage movement and may prompt you to twist as you reach for the phone or fax. You can also trip over it. A better solution, if possible, is to build a low platform into the space beneath the desk.
It’s the simple things like posture and sitting position that can make such a big difference when it comes to back pain relief. In particular, lower back pain relief can be found by straightening your posture or adjusting your chair if you spend a lot of the day sat down at a desk. Find out how today and get your back on the straight and narrow.