12 Oct Posture For Your Back Pain
If you do nothing else for your back pain, try this…hint – it’s not what you expect.
The dreaded backache, it seems impossible to escape and so inevitable right? And is there any real merit in the saying “Sit up straight!”? While back pain is the leading cause of disability in the world, it is not inevitable. As a society we sit a TON. The average American sits 7.4 hours/day and if you have a desk job that jumps to a whopping 15 hours!
When we sit with poor posture, our spine flattens out and flexes, placing abnormal stress on it. Sitting slouched is essentially the same position as if we were bent over all day. Fun fact: the average person bends over at least 2000-3000x per day in addition to all the hours sitting.
Unsurprisingly, the two biggest predictors of low back pain are poor posture and a high frequency in bending over during the day.
Most people do not spend any time reversing the enormous amount of flexion stress placed on their spine to maintain normal flexibility. Over time this can lead to recurrent bouts of stiffness, pain, and limited function.
So how can we avoid this stress while sitting, especially if we have a desk job? For that, we go back to our original question, “Does the adage “Sit Up Straight” have any merit?” The answer is a resounding YES and OFTEN. If you do not fix your posture, you will not have a full or complete recovery of your back pain.
So if you are going to do just ONE thing for your back pain, try fixing your posture and here is why…
If we sit 7-15 hrs a day, we need to address this trigger by avoiding this sustained flexion position of the spine by restoring its natural curvature. The natural curvature of our spine is called lordosis. Sitting with lordosis puts our spine in a neutral position, putting significantly less stress through the spine.
You may be asking, how could I possibly maintain good posture all day? Sitting upright is tough work. So to make it easier, I highly recommend investing in a lumbar roll. For optimal use, make sure that you scoot your hips to the back of your chair first, then, slide the roll to the small of your back. Watch this video (add link) to see how to properly use it. Here are a couple of my favorite lumbar rolls: McKenzie Lumbar Super Roll and Sammons Preston Half Lumbar Roll
If you are wondering whether a lumbar roll could make a big difference for you, here are a few signs your spine is desperate for some support:
- Tightness when rising from a chair or it takes a few steps/minutes to fully stand up straight after sitting
- Achiness while sitting especially after prolonged sessions
- Walking and staying active feels good and improves/resolves back stiffness or pain
When treating pain, it is important to recognize and modify aggravating activities. Sitting is often a notorious trigger for low back pain and making simple adjustments to your posture can go a long way in your recovery. I wonder if our parents had that in mind when they said “Sit up straight!”.