The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Features

October 16, 2013

If you can't stand the pain, change the way you sit

Eighty percent of adults have experienced back pain at some point in their lives. About 25 percent of adults have experienced back pain within the past three months. Why do so many Americans suffer from back pain?

Studies have shown that increased time spent sitting at a computer, watching TV, playing video games and driving in a car may be contributing to increased back pain.

Too much sitting

While sitting, your posture is compressed into a bent position involving the muscles of the low back and pelvis. Some muscles overwork and some relax. This can create an imbalance in the spine. Sitting down for long periods of time may cause the muscles to tighten or even become shorter in length.

As a result, when you stand or begin to move, the shortened muscles pull down on the lower back. This may cause low-back pain.

Change sitting habits

As a society, Americans cannot avoid sitting. However, steps can be taken to counteract the effects and learn better sitting habits.

The following are tips to help reduce back pain:

• Stretch before sitting — Try to learn to automatically arch your back and lean backward into a slow, full stretch elongating the spine and allowing the psoas and hip flexors to activate and take pressure off the low back.

• Apply proper sitting ergonomics — Try this: Mechanically change the seat in your automobile if you have a commute of more than 30 minutes, by tilting the seat forward so the seat changes the pelvic position and your knees are lower in the front than the thighs. This allows an upright sitting posture with the lower spine arched into its normal lordotic curve.

The old way of sitting in a reclined posture allows the pelvis and lumbar spine muscles to shorten into an abnormal crouch-type position, causing eventual low-back pain to develop.

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