Sitting Posture and Back Pain

The human body is an incredible thing, built to function in multiple, fascinating ways. Throughout the history of mankind, the way we utilize our bodies has changed with every passing era. Our ancestors worked the land, carried large and heavy loads, at times ran from predators and walked vast distances to get from one point of civilization to another. As technology evolved, humans have needed to rely on their own strength and movement less and less. Cars take us from point A to point B, food can be delivered to our doorstep after one simple phone call and the majority of our occupations have us sitting for 8 or more hours a day.

You would think this advancement in technology would be great for our bodies because we don’t have to endure the wear and tear of hunting and gathering. In reality, our bodies were made to move. We were never meant to be a sedentary species and our new found inactivity has actually brought with it a host of health issues, one of which is lower back pain.

The spine is made up of 24 interlocking vertebrae, which are divided into three types: cervical, thoracic and lumbar. Fibrous tissues called ligaments connect those bones in our spine. To prevent our vertebrae from crunching against each other, spinal discs provide a cushion between them. Muscles then attach the spine to our skeleton, giving us upper body movement and flexibility.

When a person is sitting down for an extended period of time, the lower back must prop up the weight of the top half of the body and the position we sit in can make it harder for the back to do its supportive job. This can cause joint and nerve pain in the lower back, legs and hips.

You can avoid these sitting induced problems by remembering a few things:

–          Make sure your feet touch the floor when you’re sitting. Dangling feet put added stress on your back but feet, firmly planted beneath you, help share the load.

–          If possible, find a chair with a supportive base. 4 legged chairs can’t offer the same uniformed support .

–          When sitting, your hips should be the same level or higher than your knees. If your hips sink lower than you knees, you are creating an unhealthy and unnatural bend in your spinal column that can cause pressure, pain and injury to multiple areas.

–          Sit against the back of your chair. Good posture not only looks better, it feels better too.

–          Walk around. Make sure you are getting out of your seat as often as possible to walk and stretch. Add as much intentional movement to your day as you can.

Technology is a wonderful thing and we have much to be thankful for with our modern amenities. Enjoy conveniences while also taking care of yourself. Keep active and keep healthy.

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