This is an informative video of proper posture.
In the last blog post I referenced the shortened psoas muscle as the cause of instability and degeneration in our low backs. Excessive sitting (ie. driving, deskwork, studying, gaming, texting, or anything else that has us parked in a chair) causes shortening of the psoas. To combat this I encourage anyone who sits for a living to find a way to stand for half of their workday. There are many options, relative to size and cost, available to the office worker.
By standing for part of our workday this would allow the psoas to lengthen to a natural position. This would allow for better posture, and normal alignment of the pelvis and lumbar vertebrae. Therefore less degeneration would occur because of constantly sitting in the same position.
There are other benefits to standing other than postural. Even the American Cancer Society recognizes that prolonged sitting is a public health risk that has the potential to shorten lives. Improper position of the neck is also corrected by standing, which reduces the potential for headaches. Another plus to a standing workstation is increased calorie expenditure. Conservative estimates say we burn 50 more calories per hour. So if we stood for just half of our work day, that is 200 calories per day, 1000 per week, 4000 per month. There are 3500 calories in one pound of body fat, that works out to 14 pounds a year from standing for a half of everyday.
There are many options for standing work stations, one should progress carefully into the upright position. Alternating between standing and sitting would allow one to adapt gradually. This requires a desk that is fitted to the employees upright and seated positions. There are many compaies that have this automated to switch between the two positions. Since lower back pain is the number one reason people see a doctor, it is my belief that we should address our posture through our workday in order to address the causes of this complaint.
Does your desk make your back hurt? If you spend more than six hours a day sitting down, then the answer is YES! We were not designed to sit on our fannies for extended periods of time. We were built to move around on our two legs chasing game or harvesting crops, within the last 50 years our society has taken a big hit to our health. This is because we have become completely sedentary. Even if you go to a gym regularly, you are only moving for an hour or two. What is going on with the rest of your day? There’s a good chance you are seated. Sometimes up to 12 total hours a day.
Sitting down all day long causes a muscle on the front of our spines to shorten, and this is what sets us up for back pain. This muscle is called Psoas Major, the p is silent. In the butcher shop it is referred to as the tenderloin.
The Psoas muscle starts on all five of the lumbar vertebrae. These are the five bones that are the bottom of your spine. It runs down the front of your spine and pelvis to attach to the inside of your upper leg. Its job is to pick your leg up, so that if you are marching your Psoas is working on each side of your spine.
When we sit all day long this muscle gets used to a shorter position.
Over time it can feel like a struggle to stand all the way up.
When people complain of back pain and are in this posture, you can see which muscle is the culprit. Over time this will stress the discs in the lower back causing them to shrink. This is known as degenerative disc disease. All of these will contribute to lower back pain. The long term correction for these scenarios is lengthening this muscle of the front of your spine and reestablishing the optimal alignment of the lumbar vertebrae. One can accomplish this with guided stretching and specific chiropractic adjustments.
As a chiropractor and a lifelong “participant” in athletic activities, I have seen how proper form or lack thereof can make or break an experience. The quickest way to take the quality out of an event that you have worked for, is to get injured. From cycling, to running and especially weight lifting, there is a wrong way and a right way to do things.
Chiropractic fits in with this philosophy. An aligned spine allows all other body parts to perform correctly. Running, or walking for that matter, with hips out of alignment leads to a compensated gait. This in turn can lead to injuries of the low back, hip, knee, foot and even the opposite shoulder. Their are similar scenarios in all activities. Cycling, swimming, power and Olympic lifting are just a few of the ones aided by proper spinal mechanics. By incorporating proper alignment and reducing muscular imbalances an athlete can train and perform at their greatest output.
My greatest joy in treating active people, is to help them achieve their maximum potential. From national champions to the newly active, resolving improper movement of the spine is an integral part of a fulfilling experience.