Back problems are among the most common chronic conditions in Canada. Four out of five adults will experience at least one episode of back pain at some time in their lives, although occurrence is most often between the ages of 30 and 50. Back problems appear with equal frequency in men and women. Back pain is generally mechanical in nature, or a result of a trauma or another underlying medical condition.1
Contributing factors include poor muscle tone, especially in the back and abdominal muscles; sedentary lifestyle; obesity; smoking; poor posture; and in particular, improper or heavy lifting. Prevention of mechanical low back pain is possible and can be done incorporating basic principles into your daily routine. These principles include strengthening your core muscles, maintaining good posture in stationary positions and also during functional tasks, and using proper form while lifting.
Some basic tips for good sitting posture:
- Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your buttocks should touch the back of your chair.
- All three normal back curves should be present while sitting. A small, rolled-up towel or a lumbar roll can be used to help you maintain the normal curves in your back.
Here’s how to find a good sitting position when you’re not using a back support or lumbar roll:
- Sit at the end of your chair and slouch completely.
- Draw yourself up and accentuate the curve of your back as far as possible. Hold for a few seconds.
- Release the position slightly (about 10 degrees). This is a good sitting posture.
- Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips.
- Bend your knees at a right angle. Keep your knees even with or slightly higher than your hips. Your legs should not be crossed.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes.
- At work, adjust your chair height and work station so you can sit up close to your work and tilt it up at you. Rest your elbows and arms on your chair or desk, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- When sitting in a chair that rolls and pivots, don’t twist at the waist while sitting. Instead, turn your whole body.
- When standing up from the sitting position, move to the front of the seat of your chair. Stand up by straightening your legs. Avoid bending forward at your waist. Immediately stretch your back by doing 10 standing backbends. 2
Since back pain can arise from a variety of factors or incidences it is important to seek sound medical advice from a qualified practitioner such as a registered physiotherapist prior to beginning any exercise program or treatment for back pain.
- The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/Back_health/hic_Posture_for_a_Healthy_Back.aspx