Posture

Did you know that the most common cause of low back pain is postural stress?  This type of low back pain is frequently brought on by sitting for  prolonged  time in a poor position, prolonged forward bending in bad working positions, awkward or heavy lifting or standing and lying for a long time in a poor position.  The problem in all these situations is the lack of lumbar lordosis, or curve in your lower back.  Unfortunately, many of us spend too much time at work or with activities with the lower back in a flexed position and we completely lose our lordosis.  When you reduce your lordosis for a long period of time and never restore it, you will eventually lose the ability to form the curve,  which is associated with chronic lower back pathology.

We need to think of the body as a whole.   Stretching, exercise, stress reduction and proper nutrition as just as important to a healthy back and lifestyle.   Individuals with sedentary occupations, which include prolonged sitting, are at a high risk for developing low back pain and increasing the pressure in your lumbar discs.

The following are examples of how sitting with faulty posture  increase the disc pressure in your spine.   Sitting in a slouched position can increased disc  pressure load to 150%,  bending forward this posture increases to 250%.  When you  perform seated exercises at the gym using weight machines with poor posture,  think about how much more stress you produce on you back and lumbar discs.  To reduce these stresses on your spine, as a general rule you should get up from a seated position every 20-30 minutes to unload your spinal stress.   For general back maintenance, after sitting, get up and perform  10-20 standing back bends, which can reverse negative effects of sitting.

Brian M Piekarski, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Strength and Conditioning Specialist

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