The Joint Ventures' Blog

Sit Up Straight Your Back Will Thank You

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

EVERYONE wants to avoid back trouble, but surprisingly few of us manage to escape it.  Up to 80 percent of Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives, and each year 15 percent of all adults are treated for lumbar pain alone.

Back pain is notoriously difficult and expensive to remedy, but it is relatively easy to prevent.

The majority of back pain is the result of muscle and ligament strain or weakness, and can often be prevented by developing core strength and proper posture.  Maintaining good posture improves muscle tone, makes breathing easier, and is one of the best ways to avoid back and neck pain.

Sitting for long periods of time puts pressure on the discs and other joint structures in the back, and fatigues muscles.  And most workers spend the majority of their days sitting down!  A recent published study found that Americans are sedentary for an average of 8.5 hours a day.

Sitting up a little straighter now?  Good!  Here’s some advice that will help you make it a daily habit and hopefully avoid expensive back problems.

Ergonomic Sitting

  • The height of the desk chair should allow your hips and knees to be at right angles and your feet firmly supported on the floor (a foot rest may be required).
  • Your bottom should be situated at the back of the chair and a lumbar support should be placed in the small of your back.
  • Your shoulders should be held back slightly and your chin should be tucked in.
  • The height of the desk should allow your elbows to be bent at approximately 90 degrees.
  • Your mouse, keyboard, telephone and other accessories should be as close as possible to prevent you having to lean forward or to the side to reach them.
  • The top of your computer monitor should be positioned directly in front of you, at eye level.
  • It is good practice to regularly switch which side of your body you use to perform various tasks, to give one side of your body a break from repetitive or prolonged stress (e.g. use the mouse in your left and right hands equally).
  • Whether you work in an office or at home, get up and move around and/or stretch every 30 to 60 minutes
    back pain, posture, slouching, bad habits, physical therapy 

Not likely to remember these tips?  Set your phone or computer alarm to remind you to stand up and stretch each hour.  An iPhone app called Alarmed has a feature that allows you to create regular reminders throughout the day.

Still slouching?  Bad habits are hard to break.  A physical therapist can show you how to properly align your spine and provide you with postural strengthening exercises to strengthen your core and stretch overused muscles.

If you have any other questions about preventing a back injury with a proper ergonomic set-up and postural strengthening tips, please contact me at Marissa.Osterman@JointVenturesPT.com

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