How 'Bad' Posture can FIX your lower back pain!... Yes, you read it right the first time!
Most of us have been told at some stage in life that we should sit straight. Whether that came from a teacher at school or our parents when we were children that would have contributed to our beliefs about posture in which sitting upright = good posture. Well, it is time to bring these beliefs into question.
Let’s focus for a moment on what happens when we sit straight?
When we sit upright the chest gets pushed out and the ribcage is elevated. The impact of that on the peripheral tissues is that the iliocostalis- the long muscle that attaches to the ribs and runs along our back has to constantly produce force to keep the ribcage upright, the diaphragm is shortening and the oblique muscles are lengthening.
This isn’t an ideal situation when we experience persistent lower back pain.
Sitting upright is actually counterproductive in treating persistent lower back problems. What we really want to do in that situation is to encourage the diaphragm to lengthen as this will improve the range of motion in the ribcage and therefore allow for better load distribution throughout the rest of the body- the pelvis, lower limbs and shoulders. Correct load distribution is also very important especially in cases where back pain is linked to lifting activities.
Another thing worth consideration is that when sitting upright, the back muscles must actively contract all that time. Now let’s imagine that we were asked to make a fist and squeeze the fingers real tight. At the beginning this may not feel like a lot of effort but after a while our wrists would start aching and it would be difficult to keep that tension in the fists for a few hours.
Now, the same thing happens to the back muscles. If we ask them to contract for a prolonged period of time, they will fatigue and ache. In order to prevent that from happening, we want the muscles to be able to relax throughout the day.
Obviously, slouching too much and putting strain on the neck is not the alternative. Sitting position should be relaxed with the bum pushed back on the chair- not on the edge - and where the bra line would be in ladies, that area should be off the chair. The comfortable sitting posture without the head moving too much forward over the shoulders is the most desirable position to help the back muscles relax.