Despite the incredible engineering of the human body, bad posture can lead to back pain. The human body has evolved very little in the last million years, and is basically constructed for the way humans lived prior to the industrial age. When the body is allowed to function as it’s been designed to, movement is abundant, joyful, easy and natural. When we spend too much time hunched over a computer screen or sitting in traffic, pain and discomfort can result, often in our backs and hips.
It’s estimated that about 70% of people will have back pain at some point in their lives, and one theory is that back pain is prevalent because of our modern lifestyle. Long hours of sitting and compressing our spine are the opposite of what the spine was designed for; it was made to MOVE! To run, walk, climb, twist, turn, reach, bend — these are the actions of a healthy back and neck.
While daily movement and a strong core are key to maintaining a healthy muscular-skeletal system, posture is also an important player.
Here are some things to consider so you can avoid back, hip and neck pain and keep your body happy:
1. Become aware of your posture.
Your posture, how you align you body and use your muscles to keep you in certain positions, is an important consideration in every activity you do including sitting, standing and sleeping. Good posture maximizes your respiratory capacity, allowing other systems, including your digestive and circulatory systems, to work effectively. As you move throughout your day, think about how you are holding your body.
2. Practice good posture while you sit.
Besides laying down to sleep, sitting is the posture humans find themselves in most often. When we sit long hours, our core — the muscles around our middle going along the front in our stomach area and behind in the low back — act like a girdle stabilizing the vertebra, and other structures of the low back and hips. With prolonged use, these muscles become fatigued and we start to slump, which generally leads to the exhaustion of other structures.
Position yourself as ergonomically as possible. Your hips, knees and feet should be at 90 degree angles, your chair should provide support to your low back, and the distance to your work station should be comfortable without placing strain on your body.
3. Don’t neglect your balance.
Maintaining your sense of balance becomes more difficult with each passing decade. Taking some time to develop your balance will go a long way toward engaging your core muscles and helping the brain-body connection remain strong, ensuring that when you need to recruit the muscles needed for core stabilization, the message can be transmitted from the brain to the needed muscle groups in nanoseconds.
When you’re engaging in physical activity, think about doing specific exercises that target balance and strive to make those activities more challenging over time. Pilates and yoga are great activities for developing balance.
Source: www.MindBodyGreen.com; Trish Allan; April 17, 2014.