Movement is the Key for Back Pain Relief

Movement is the Key for Back Pain Relief

Back pain will affect 80% of the UK population at some stage of our lives, according to research. It is actually the second largest cause of absence from work, amounting to 50 million days of absence a year. Some people are more at risk of backache because of their jobs, e.g., manual workers who are required to perform heavy lifting or repetitive tasks are likely to suffer from back pain if they do not keep their backs healthy. Whatever your job type or lifestyle, back pain can be managed.

Did you know that keeping your back active, rather than holding it in a static position is often the most effective way of preventing back pain and recovering from a back injury? We recently read the views of Dr. Stuart McGill, a world leading researcher in the field of back pain. His work is admired and implemented throughout the world.

He says, “stresses develop during sitting that become problematic if they are not reduced. For example, when sitting slouched, muscle activity is minimal but the passive tissues (ligaments and annulus of the disc) become stressed.” He goes on to say, “We are now beginning to understand the effects of prolonged loading on these structures; it can result in back muscle spasms and diminishes reflex responses.” Another research group suggests that “Full flexion during slouched sitting increases disc annulus stresses; this posture has produced disc herniations in the lab” (Wilder et al., 1988).

Unfortunately the typical recommendation of sitting up straight is not sound advice either. Research shows that sitting upright will engage your back extensors and activate your psoas more, which only increases the compressive forces on your spine. So where do we go from here?

There are ways to reduce the stresses above. The objective is to make sitting a dynamic activity with frequent posture changes. Changing lumbar posture causes a migration of the loads from one tissue to another. We should reduce the risk and make sitting a dynamic task; ideal posture is one that continuously changes. There are many back supports available on the market to help manage and prevent back pain. Designers might consider these factors when creating new back supports and chairs.