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Low back pain is one of the most common complaints for patients of all ages.  Numerous research articles study how posture or more specifically poor posture increases a persons risk of developing pain. A study by Mork P, Westgaard in Clin Biomech 2009;24:169-7 studied back posture and muscle activity in computer workers to determine if sitting at work is assoc with exacerbation of low back pain (LBP). They concluded that prolonged sitting is assoc with more LBP than if the work situation allowed for more variation in a workers posture.  Patients need to understand that when a person sits they tend to flex forward and their low back pushes or caves back into the chair.  This sustained stretch of their low back ligaments leads to their low back support muscles being inhibited or deactivated.

So what happens to you?  when you are at work or home sitting for long periods the muscles that help support your low back go off line.  Then when you get up and go to lift something, bend to reach for something you have an increased risk to strain your back because these muscles are not available yet to do their job.  Too many times a patient has said all I did was bend to lift up my bag, or pick up a childs toy ect. and my back spasmed.

So what should you do? Get up at least each hour, activate you low back muscles, vary your posture.  If you have been sitting for over 30 minutes give your self at least 10 minutes of moving around before bending past 65 degrees at the waist.  Better yet don’t bend right away, instead go down on one knee when going to lift something.  When you go to the gym warm up before bending and lifting.

A consistent recommendation is the research is use a lumbar support to stop your low back from caving back into the chair.  A simple low back pillow can improve your posture and decrease your chances of developing low back pain.  When sitting have your pelvis higher than your knees.  this helps you maintain your lumbar lordosis (forward curve) and reduce back muscle activity and fatigue.

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