anonymous business person sitting at work laptop with hands folded

Change Your Ways

Long Hours of Sitting and Back Pain

In one of my previous articles, “flexion-intolerant low back pain” was mentioned briefly, but not elaborated on extensively. Sitting is considered the new smoking because the increasing amount of time at a desk, driving or relaxing on the couch is just as detrimental to your health. People are creatures of habit, so they continually create or reinforce pain in their bodies by improper movements.

Causes of Low Back Pain

When a patient comes into my clinic with low back pain, I must keep an open mind to the many contributing factors that low back pain has. As there are many contributing factors to low back pain, spinal therapy needs to be right for each individual patient. What works for one person may not for the another.

Patients with flexion-intolerant low back pain may also have unilateral buttock and/or leg pain. Every now and then I get someone who has Googled diagnoses and tell me that they have a herniated disc when they are experiencing these similar symptoms. Although I suspect most may have a damaged or irritated disc, a lot of false positives on imaging occurs due to age related disc degeneration.

man clutching back in pain

Treatment Options for Low Back Pain

These symptoms do not cause me to adhere to a set guide to treatment because the external integrity of the intervertebral disc can be perfectly normal. Inflammation, age related disc degeneration and arthritis can stimulate nerves inside the disc causing pain. A vicious cycle of turning off the deeper core muscles of the spine are due to this pain which inhibits their ability to fire rapidly and anticipate movement. Stabilization of the spine is key because, as we age, discs shrink and ligaments become lax.

The first step is to quit doing the flexion type movements that created this whole mess.  Exercises that are supposed to strengthen the core such as sit ups, crunches and yoga that have sustained flexion poses need to be eliminated. Although forward stretching may temporarily relieve low back pain, more times than not, symptoms reoccur or have worsened in 20 minutes to an hour later.

woman sitting at window drinking coffee

How to Prevent Pain

It is vital to take breaks throughout the day from sitting. Standing work stations have become popular in recent years and have allowed for more efficiency in the workplace. The second step is learning proper movement patterns such as getting up from a sitting position. The waiter’s bow position is the correct way to bend forward as it incorporates the stronger gluteal muscles as opposed to the weaker and smaller back extensors. Spinal manipulation and massage do help with this condition, but the primary treatment is self-care.

To yours in better health!    

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