Healthy Back Tips
Posture is Everything!
Benefits of good posture
Reduces back and muscle pain
Helps to keep bones and joints in the correct position
Decreases abnormal wearing of your joints that can lead to arthritis
Takes pressure off the pain-sensitive nerves and tissues
Helps to keep your spine from being fixed in abnormal positions (think hunchback)
5 Steps to a Healthy Back
Follow these 5 simple steps to change your posture forever. Changing your posture by sitting or standing up straight will instantly take a load of stress and strain off of your lower back.
Find your back’s “happy back position” by keeping a slight natural curve in your lower back. We refer to this through out the Telespine program as finding your neutral spine.
Contract your body’s inner core (TrA) by drawing your belly button inward towards your spine.
Lift your chest slightly by extending your mid-back.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together and down.
Lengthen the back of your neck by slightly tucking your chin in.
Tip: Use just enough muscular work to sit upright but make sure you stay relaxed (for example-make sure your shoulders are relaxed). Breathing deep and slowly also helps upright posture.
How to Protect your Back at Work
Whether you sit or stand at work, this article will give you guidelines and information on how to prevent the stress and strain your environment may have on your back. Nearly 97% of lower back pain is referred to as mechanical back pain. What is that? Mechanical back pain means the pain arises from muscles and ligaments in the spine being strained or placed under abnormal stress. The cause behind mechanical back pain can result from poor posture, improper lifting technique and stress. Follow the below guidelines to protect your lower back.
PART ONE: I Sit Most of the Day
Sitting for a happy spine
How are you sitting right now? Are you sitting so that your backside is all the way up against the back of the chair? If not, your back is working hard to keep you upright. Let the chair share the load and sit with your buttock and back up against the back of the chair. If available, find a chair with a good ergonomic design. What is a good chair? Ergonomic chairs are specially designed to fit and support the natural contours of the spine. If your chair does not curve out for your lumber spine, you can use a cushion or rolled towel and place it behind you. The lower back support should be about the height of your belly button. Also, your hips should be slightly lower or the same level as your knees. Maintaining a neutral spine is essential for a happy spine. To find your neutral spine, sit or stand up tall, bring your shoulders back and make sure you have a slight natural curve inward in your lower back. If you are pushing your stomach out, that is too much of a curve inward. As soon as you slump forward, like so many of us do while sitting, you lose that curve in your lower back curve. Not having that natural curve inward places an enormous amount of stress on your lower spine. Workstation Placement Ok, now for the placement of your computer, reading material and phone. If you are in a position causing you to slump, twist or bend, this can lead to pain in your back, neck, shoulders, as well cause headaches.
Computer Placement Check
Your computer and keyboard should be placed directly in front of your chest. It is also advised to have the top of your computer screen at eye level. You can also try tipping the screen back so that you are not looking down as much.
Reading Material Placement Check
If you type from text documents, consider using a document holder or move the computer monitor slightly to the side and place the text directly in front of you.
Phone Placement Check
Do you hold your phone between your shoulder and head while talking? Do you hold the phone up to your ear and lean your head to the side? Consider using a headset instead to keep your spine in its happy neutral position.
Movement for a Happy Back
How often do you get up and move around or stretch after long periods of sitting? Staying in one spot or position day after day for hours on end can lead to back and neck pain. Our bodies are built to stand more than sit. After only 20 minutes of sitting, blood pools in your legs and pressure builds up in your spine. With prolonged sitting, your hips and hamstrings tend to tighten and nerves can get pinched. The secret to avoid these painful problems is simple: move. Every 20-60 minutes stretch, stand up, or walk around. This can have a profound impact on your health.
Tip: Use a timer to remind you when it is time to get up and move.
PART TWO: My Job Requires Standing
Many jobs in areas such as retail, medical, construction, restaurants and beauty require standing. Standing can be stressful for your back even if you are not lifting anything. The constant pull of gravity on your spine can lead to compressing disks and pushing fluid out over time. Jobs that allow for movement, such as walking around, are better for your body than standing still (and sitting). If you are required to stand most of the day or night find some support for your back. If you are allowed to sit, take time to sit and relax your legs. If you are not allowed to sit, place one leg up on a footstool, box or any 4-6 inch height. This will relax the muscles in your thigh and hip. This will also relieve pressure in your spine. When standing, keep your knees relaxed and your shoulders back. Shift your weight often from one foot to the other. Also, make sure that you are wearing comfortable, supportive shoes with good arch support. Both heels and flats are bad for your back. Look for good arch support and stay away from heels higher than 2 inches.
PART THREE: My Job Requires Driving
Whether you drive for work or have a long commute, the following guidelines are important to help prevent and relieve lower back pain.
Even with driving it’s all about keeping your neutral spine. If your car or truck does not come with ergonomically designed seats, use a towel or cushion to help maintain the best position for your back. Make sure you empty your pockets first. Sitting on a wallet or phone may put you in a poor sitting position. Sit back all the way in your seat for support in a relaxed position. Adjust your seat so that your knees are the same height or lower than your hips. Also make sure that you are not reaching too far for the steering wheel or foot pedals. Awareness is everything: check in with yourself and make sure your shoulders are relaxed and rolled back. Lastly, stop often and stretch your legs.
Whether you sit stand or drive, plan an exercise routine either before work, at lunch or after work. Even if you are standing and walking around at your job, it’s still important to do core, cardiovascular and weight bearing exercises.
Let’s Get Started!
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