Aching back. Stiff neck and shoulders. Constant discomfort.
Does this sound familiar?
Chronic back pain is incredibly common, uncomfortable, and often completely preventable. Though back pain is often dismissed as a hallmark of growing older, it truly doesn’t need to force its way into your day-to-day life.
Chronic back pain can also be linked back to our posture…or lack thereof. Those with desk jobs requiring extended time sitting in front of a computer are especially at risk for compromised posture.
What’s the link between posture and back health? And, what easy, at-home steps can you take to support your back and relieve your pain?
The Link Between Poor Posture And Back Pain
When you were growing up, did a parent or teacher ever shout, “don’t slouch!” as you walked around? Well, as much as it pains our former teenage selves to say, it turns out our elders were right.
When we slouch forward, we aren’t engaging our spines how our bodies were designed. Our spine is supposed to help us stand upright, carefully balancing our body in the process. A forward slouch puts more weight and pressure on certain hot spots along our spines, and as these areas become overloaded, it can lead to a breakdown of tissue, degeneration, and resulting pain. In general, when we sit with proper posture, our head only weighs around 10 pounds. However, for every inch it tilts forward, the amount of weight it places on your spine is almost double.
Any job that requires extended sitting for long periods can make maintaining a healthy posture more challenging to achieve, despite the best of intentions. And, if you’re already experiencing back pain, proper posture is very arduous. The more injured or degenerated this area becomes, the more difficult or uncomfortable it can be to engage in a healthy posture for extended periods of time.
Lifestyle Habits Matter
One day of slouching in front of your desk likely won’t cause significant back pain or spur a chronic injury. Back pain caused by poor posture accumulates little bits at a time until pain and degeneration happen. Proper posture needs to be part of your daily habits to help keep your back healthy; it’s a long game, but a worthy one!
Incorporate Breaks Into Your Day
The truth is that no one has perfect posture 100% of the time. Holding proper posture is an active practice that requires engaging our abdominal and back muscles. Naturally, as we get progressively more tired throughout a long day, our posture begins to break down.
A simple solution is to incorporate breaks into your day. No one was meant to sit for hours on end, completely uninterrupted. Schedule time during your day to get up, walk around, and perhaps even do some light stretching. The change in positioning will give your muscles a break, and you’ll ultimately be able to maintain a healthy posture for a longer duration of the day.
Exercises For A Healthy Back
Focusing on exercises that strengthen your core and back muscles can also help support your spine and back health. Here, we provide a few simple activities that don’t require special equipment or much time at all.
For the plank position:
Place forearms on the ground directly under your shoulders, parallel to the rest of your body.
Extend your legs back behind you, lifting your body into a straight “plank” motion while pressing your toes into the ground. As you hold this motion, you’ll notice that you need to engage the muscles in and around your abdominals.
Hold for 30 seconds or as long as possible.
To perform this exercise:
Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
Tighten your abdominal muscles, push your lower back flat on the floor, hold this position for 10-15 seconds, and then relax.
Repeat up to 10 times, several times daily.
Cat / Cow
To perform this pose:
Begin on your hands and knees with your spine in a neutral position.
Slowly drop your stomach toward the ground while you look slightly up.
Pause for 1-2 seconds, and then slowly draw your chin in toward your chest while arching your back up toward the sky.
Repeat this sequence 5-10 times, keeping your motions slow and controlled.
Chiropractic Support For Better Back Health
As you look to better support your overall back health, chiropractic care is a safe and natural treatment regime for addressing back pain while encouraging better posture long-term. Chiropractic care utilizes gentle adjustments of the spine and extremities to realign your body. These gentle adjustments help to decrease inflammation, relieve pressure, reduce nerve irritability, and ultimately allow your entire body to relax and enable actual healing to take place.
Additionally, your practitioner may recommend other exercises or modalities to perform outside of appointments to expedite your healing process. By working consistent chiropractic care into your routine, you can decrease pain and improve your posture over time. That’s a huge win-win.
Don’t neglect your back health any longer.
Schedule an appointment online or call (949) 380-8883.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.