Before I write about how you can fix or improve your posture as it relates to low back pain, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the following…
It is common sense, but I feel it does need to be addressed.
This information is just that. Information. It’s not medical advice and shouldn’t be thought of as such.
The words on my blog, or the information you may find on the internet will definitely help educate you, but it does not replace the care of a trained health professional who can fully assess your individual situation.
If you or your clients have any concerns, seek medical attention!
Now that that’s out of the way, on to posture and how it’s related to low back pain.
How many of you spend hours in front of a computer? How many of you spend hours driving a car, sitting in rush hour traffic? How about watching TV while relaxing on the couch?
Think about it.
In one day, count the hours that that you spend sitting. Eight? Ten? Sixteen? More?
- The Spine: The cause of low back pain?
When you sit, you don’t move a whole lot. At least that’s my experience with watching people sit (yes, this is what I do on the weekends). But even if you’re not moving much, you still end up using certain body tissues. Especially those in the low back. And you use them over and over again or you use them incorrectly.
When you’re positioned a certain way, for example, in that typical slouch position on the couch, you use specific muscles constantly and turn other ones off.
Unfortunately, this causes your body to rely on the passive system. The passive system includes the bones, joints, ligaments and other soft tissue structures that don’t have contractile properties. In this case, they’re usually the ones that weren’t designed to absorb gravity’s constant force on your body in that manner.
Over time, these passive structures adaptively change.
Sometimes, like when trying to build muscle by lifting weights over time, adaptive change is a good thing.
In the case of your low back pain, it’s not!
Poor seated posture
Some muscles and ligaments get stretched out. Much like a rubber band that’s been pulled apart and won’t go back to its original shape. Some tissues just get turned off or stop working the way they should. Kinda like that use it or lose it thing.
So if you were slouching away all day at work in front of the computer, then slouched in the car all the way on your drive home, then crashed in front of the couch in that same fetal-like position, you’ve just spent the better part of your day compressing your discs while stretching out your spinal ligaments.
Doesn’t sound so comfortable when you look at it like that, does it?
Now repeat that day-in and day-out, for weeks or months or years on end.
See where I’m going?
It all comes back to movement. Do what your body is meant to do. Move. Change posture. As so eloquently put by Dr. Stuart McGill, spine researcher extraordinaire, the best posture is the one that keeps changing.
Where do you start to relieve your low back pain? How do you go about getting rid of the pain?
Why not start with what your mamma told you to do!
Sit up tall.
Ideal seated posture
This is going to be one of the hardest physical challenges you will face today. Since you started school when you were about five years old, you’ve been teaching your body some very nasty habits. You need to unlearn them.
Let’s start with the spine.
Imagine a string is tied to the crown of your head and is pulling upwards. This will keep you extended through your spine and will also keep your chin tucked in and horizontal. This position keep your spine in proper alignment and helps to maintain the normal curves required to reduce the crushing effects of gravity.
This is the way your body posture should be. Easy. Efficient. Effortless.
Next, try to get and keep your shoulders back in their normal position.
After years of abuse and repetitive postures, you may find you sit with your shoulders rounded forward. Trust me, you’re not the only one!
In fact, the next time you get a chance, look at the person in the car beside you at a red light, or look at your cubicle neighbour as they diligently type away at the computer or talk on the phone. Look at how their shoulders are positioned. I tell ya, it’s everywhere!
Trying to change this will be tough for some of you. But it’s all part of the plan to get you pain free. You need to be diligent. You need to put the effort in. You need to be consistent. For now, try working on those two posture items and let me know how it goes. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing worth doing usually is.
Don’t slouch. Defy gravity.