Most likely, you are reading this sitting down, and possibly in front of your desktop computer.
Back pain is such a typical part of life, people may think it is almost normal. About four in five people will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives. Herniated discs, strained muscles, and bad posture are the typical causes. People are more likely to miss work as a result of a sore back and it is a major reason people claim a job-related disability. Back pain ranges from minor to very serious and can feel very differently from one person to the next. Since it is so common, many people fail to take it seriously until the pain becomes an obstacle they cannot overcome.
The home and office environment are notorious for making back pain hard to manage or prevent. Changing the sleeping, sitting, or working spaces to accommodate a better ergonomic environment may be the only way people can continue to function. This requires research and close attention to the places where people spend most of their time. By making changes to the room and developing healthy habits, people can stop back pain from turning into a problem they cannot handle.
People thought shifting the primary means of work from a factory to an office would be easier on the body. However, decades of experience has shown the office environment can be as hard on a person’s back as fields requiring a lot of physical labor. Years of repetitive stress from sitting in an uncomfortable position can cause a lot of damage.
Start by evaluating your home work space. Take a look around and notice areas where clutter piles up, dim lighting or darks spaces. Notice the shape of the furniture you use while working, does it look to be design for support and comfort, or around home decorative trends? Pay close attention to the material it is made of, does it have a balance of structural support with cushion or padding?
All of these factors play a role on your mood, energy level, and amount of focus impacting your sitting posture.
People may spend as much time in the office as they do sleeping in bed, and in some cases more than that. This underscores the need to have a supportive work environment with a chair ideally set up for a person’s back. A few modifications to the chair and desk may make a significant difference in a person’s ability to function while they work. We’ll take a good look at your chair in a following post.
One of the biggest problems with back pain caused by a bad work environment is it tends to accumulate slowly. This means people may not notice they are causing back pain or injury from bad posture until it becomes quite pronounced. Most people expect to have a little discomfort after a long day at the office, and this can lead them to ignore signs of back problems on the horizon. It does not take a lot of work for people to identify what they may be doing wrong and form a plan to correct it. Understanding what it means to have a good posture makes it easier for people to develop a habit. Once they have this information, they can put it into practice in a way to ensure they will continue to have better muscle and joint health over time.
For additional tips on home modifications read the guide from Kris Lindahl Real Estate : https://www.krislindahl.com/back-pain-management-guide.php
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Most likely, you are reading this sitting down, and possibly in front of your desktop computer. In August of 1981 IBM released the first Personal Computer (PC), the 5150. It paved the way for a revolution of modern life that made work and communication more efficient, and caused productivity, as well as professional expectations to rise. This is not an article about the history of computing, but it is an article about how such a revolutionary invention is challenging millions of years of evolution by exposing humans to prolonged periods of sitting. And it’s killing our backs!
You see, we evolved from invertebrates to inhabit the land and in doing so were exposed to much greater forces of gravity. This led to the development of a spine around which our bodies could more easily accomplish the new tasks it was taking on. As primates and early humans began hunting and gathering, a need for improved efficiency became paramount and eventually we began to walk upright. It is at this point that the human spine began to decouple and segment into something that we would today recognize as a spine. And it all happened because we needed to move easier, with greater efficiency so we could cover vast distances in search of food, shelter, and respite from the elements.
Today, many humans spend their days sitting behind a desk and computer or behind the wheel of an automobile. Our ancestors, with the exception of child bearers, seldom sat for prolonged periods and instead traveled long distances by foot to accomplish the days’ chores. So how is a spine designed for such arduous locomotion meant to deal with the unique stresses of prolonged periods of sitting? Well, it adapts. Much like our spine adapted to the demands of prehistoric life, our bodies are beginning to adapt to the new stresses that modern life presents. These adaptations take many millennia to achieve and the process, like most change we deal with, is painful. Before we begin to see adaptations to the structure of the body – the bones and ligaments that hold them together, we see adaptations to the muscular system, which help to position those bones and ligaments and maintain the optimal alignment of joints. When agonist & antagonist muscles develop an unbalanced relationship, it’s our joints that hurt the most. Sure, we might feel muscle tightness and aches and pains, but it’s when they truly shorten and reposition the joint alignment that we feel the debilitating aches and pains in our knees, hips, and back.
Sitting for prolonged periods shortens muscles, specifically your hip flexors (the illiopsoas muscle). Furthermore, tight/short hip flexors inhibit the function of the antagonist group: the gluteals. The Glutes (maximus, minimus, medius) are the most powerful muscle group in our bodies – a direct result of millennia of evolution to improve efficiency of walking and running. So with tight hip flexors and weak or inhibited Glutes our pelvis, sacrum, and spinal complex is compromised from its most efficient alignment. The result is a condition known as anterior pelvic tilt, and it puts a ton of stress on the ligaments and joints of the lower back – a primary cause for chronic lower back pain!
It’s not all doom and gloom, though! In fact, many organizations and companies today have recognized that their own demands of their employees leads to increased healthcare costs to the company and have begun to enact programs to promote employee health. The reality of business is that it often comes down to dollars and cents for leadership to buy-into employee wellness programs, and it’s not until the cost of healthcare associated with employee wellness surpasses the costs of preventative program that businesses are more willing to enact lunch hour yoga, walking meetings, after-work run clubs and similar perks.
Yet not all businesses and organizations are as progressive and forward thinking as others, and many of us are still sentenced to 9 hour days behind a keyboard or wheel of a car. So it becomes the individual’s responsibility to advocate for their own health and wellbeing by being proactive and offsetting the imbalances formed by prolonged sitting. That’s right! It’s up to you to maintain your health, and we’re here to empower you to do so with some simple routines to combat the imbalances formed through our modern lifestyles.
We’ve provided you a free Dorsum Posture Guide for Sitting that contains simple exercises and posture cues that you can immediately apply to your daily routine. With no more than a commitment to being aware of posture, you can begin to see improvements in your posture and daily discomfort within a few weeks. For this routine you don’t need weights, you don’t need to rip your abs apart on a yoga mat (though it wouldn’t hurt!), you just need to be mindful of the commitment to improving your posture and make the best use of your down time.
As with all adaptations, whether dictated by evolution or your fitness routine, take time. You must not expect a silver bullet to solve your low back pain and you need to be consistent in your approach to establishing a balance in your muscular system. At Dorsum, we’ll soon be releasing a discrete postural aid that you can wear daily under your usual work attire, which will help remind you to maintain proper posture throughout the day.
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