How to Reduce Back Pain through Your Posture
For many of us, sitting at a desk for eight hours a day is a simple and unavoidable fact of life. And while it may seem a bit counterintuitive, sitting down to “take a load off” can actually add quite a bit of pressure to our backs.
When our back is in its ideal position, with us standing straight up or lying flat, we’re placing the least amount of pressure on the discs between vertebrae. When we sit down and cause the back to curve, we add close to 50 percent as much pressure to these discs as when we’re standing. And if we’re carrying a bit of extra weight up front, that pressure can increase to nearly 300 percent with poor posture.
SO WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?
The number one reason you want to focus on good posture day in and day out is to protect your spine. The spine naturally has a curve at the neck and in your mid back. When these curves aren’t maintained properly, this can cause pain in your back, especially your lower back and your neck.
Poor posture has become a regular problem throughout the first world, leading to higher rates of back pain. When you work at a desk all day, it can be tough to maintain proper posture. The muscles that help you to maintain good posture weaken, making it even a greater challenge. So what do you do about it, because believe us, you need to do something about it.
#1 Know What Good Posture Is
The first thing you need is to know what good posture is and how to recognize when you have bad posture. Good posture, when you’re standing, is characterized by a few specific points:
- Your shoulders are inline over your hips and feet.
- Your head and neck are in a neutral position squarely between your shoulders.
- You are engaging your core muscles.
- Your shoulders are pulled back and held in a neutral position.
While it may be hard to recognize good posture if you’re not used to it, you can be sure to recognize poor posture. Poor posture is when you:
- Are hunched forward.
- Lead with your chin.
- Stick your buttocks out.
- Overarch your back.
- Walk as if you should be sitting.
Once you know what is good posture, and what is poor posture, it’s much easier to go about correcting the problem.
#2 Work To Improve Your Posture
STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE MUSCLES
One of the best things you can do to help your posture on a regular basis, and your spine, is to continually work to strengthen your core muscles. This means that you need to work on both your abdominal and back muscles in order to help support your body. You can do this in many simple ways from participating in yoga, swimming laps, or simply doing a few exercises each day geared specifically for those muscles.
DO A MENTAL CHECK
You can’t correct your posture if you don’t know that you’re slouching. Make a point of regularly making a mental check of where you are and correcting anything that is getting lax. For example, if you work at a desk, put a sticky note on the edge of your computer screen. Every time you clearly notice it, do a mental check. Sit up straighter, roll your shoulders back, and put your feet back on the ground if you need to.
USE ERGONOMIC HELP DEVICES
For the millions of Americans that sit at a desk all day, it can be hard to focus on posture. So when you’re sitting at a desk, take the time to use any ergonomic devices that can help improve your posture. This could include a lumbar support pillow, wrist rests, and screen lifts to make your work situation more conducive to a healthy spine.
Better Posture When Sitting
If you do spend your days in a chair, the amount of stress you put on your spine is greatly amplified by how much you slouch. Over time, slouching over your keyboard or work area can often lead to disc problems, nerve pain and potential long-term damage, so paying attention to your posture can lead to a much healthier back down the road.
Your chair isn’t just for sitting — it’s for leaning up against. Keeping your shoulders above your hips, slightly behind your lower back, is your healthiest pose to fight back problems. If your chair has adjustable lumbar support, make sure it’s adjusted to support the curve of your back. If it doesn’t offer support, look into inexpensive lumbar rolls to place between your back and chair.
Make sure you get up from time to time too. Stand for a few minutes, or walk around to take that pressure off your spine. Make time to exercise, focusing on a routine that will strengthen your core muscles that help keep you upright. And add some cardio and meal planning into the mix as well if you’ve got some extra pounds up front — losing that weight will make a major difference in how much pressure you’re putting on your discs.
Better Posture When Standing
If your work requires you to be on your feet all or most of the day, it can be easy to adopt poor posture. Many who work while standing do so at a work area that isn’t the correct height, forcing them to bend over and put unneeded pressure on their discs. Those who lift often do so using techniques that increase back problems as well.
If you can adjust your standing work surface, do so. You want to be standing upright, like a soldier at attention, allowing your spine to curve naturally. By raising a work surface, you can bring your shoulders back accordingly and greatly reduce that back strain.
In addition, if you use a keyboard while standing, remember that the optimal position is to have the work surface equal to your elbows. Your forearms should lay flat, at a right angle to the body. Raise your monitor to where your neck is straight up, eyes looking directly forward. This position lets your spine, from the base of your skull all the way to your pelvis, remain in its natural, ideal shape.
And if you lift things while standing, always remember — lift with the legs. Bend from the hips, not the lower back. Carry weight close to your body, standing upright when you walk. Make your work a healthier process for your back. Pay attention to your posture, and make a consistent effort to treat your back as well as it deserves. You’ll reap the rewards for the rest of your life.
If you deal with back pain and want to talk to reliable physicians who will work to bring you relief, contact Spine Institute of North America right away.
"headline": "How to Adjust Your Posture to Reduce Disc Pressure",
"name": "Spine Institute of North America"
"name": "Spine Institute of North America",