Some scientists believe that we are predisposed to have back problems due to the fact that humans spine is held in a vertical position, unlike animals that walk on four feet. Because of that, the vertebrae, especially the lumbar spine, is constantly bearing the compressible weight of the body above it and also the force of gravity, leading eventually to a back problem.
It’s not surprising that back pain (lumbago) is one of the most important health problems in the world. According to the CSST of Quebec, more then 37 000 people were off work due to back pain in 1995 and 55% of those cases involved the lumbar region.
Nowadays, people spend much of their time sitting in front of a screen, whether it’s in front of a computer, a smartphone, a tablet or a television. According to a recent US study, an adult dedicates an average of 8 hours per day in front of these electronic devices. (Rideout, Foehr et Roberts, 2010)
A poor sitting posture commonly produces low back pain. When we sit in a certain position for a few minutes, the muscles that support our low back become tired and relax. Our body sags and this results in the slouched and rounded sitting posture. If we maintain this bad posture for long enough, it causes overstretching of ligaments, pain and distortion of the discs.
To prevent back pain from sitting for prolonged periods, here are some simple things you can do by yourself :
- Adjust the height and tilt seat so your elbows, knees and ankles are resting at 90 degree angle;
- An elbow support is highly recommended because they allow to reduce the lumbar region of the weight represented by the upper body;
- Be sure your feet are supported by the floor, if not, add a foot rest;
- Slightly adjust the inclination of the seat-back between 5-15 declined angle, your back should be supported by the seat-back. If not place a cushion between the curve in your lower back and the back of the chair;
- The distance between your eyes and your computer screen should be about an arm’s length or 30 cm;
- Last thing, avoid sitting for a long periods of time (take 1-2 minutes to stretch every 30 minutes)
For more information about this topic or any questions, feel free to ask me.
Bird Smith C.
Fortier, Denis. (2014). Conseils d’un physio pour une meilleure posture et des articulations en santé. Les Éditions du Trécarré. 192 p.
Harvey, Jean-François. (2011). L’entraînement spinal : 80 exercices pour en finir avec les maux de dos. Les éditions de l’Homme. 240 p.
McKenzie, Robin. (2011). Treat your own back. N.Z. : Spinal Publications NZ Ltd. 100 p.
Rideout, V., Foehr, U. et Roberts, D. (2010). Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds. Menlo Park, CA: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Photo credit : http://www.carlingfordactivehealth.com.au/ (photo 1)