The stats are in…we sit a lot in Toronto, causing a lot of back pain!
The average North American, according to the latest research, will sit for approximately 32 YEARS of their life. 32 YEARS! If you estimate that, it’s approximately 10-12 hours of sitting per day, every single day. Is it any wonder so many people are looking for back pain relief in Toronto?
So, if we do all that sitting, and we know that sitting is bad for us and causes back pain, we might as well try to sit the best way we can.
What does the research show? This might surprise you, but there is no absolutely, perfect, sitting posture. Sorry. Doesn’t exist. However, the studies do show that there are specific strategies that can minimize the damaging effects of prolonged sitting, and help provide back pain relief in Toronto:
1. Alternate your sitting position for back pain relief in Toronto.
Trying to maintain some movement, changing periodically the stress on your spine and low back, is the best for you while sitting.
That means leaning to one side for 10-15 minutes, then leaning to the other side, then leaning back a bit, then leaning forwards a bit. Trying to CHANGE the static postural loading is the best thing for you, and will minimize back pain while sitting. So shift, move around a bit, pretend you’re a kid who just can’t sit still…guess they knew something we didn’t!
2. Avoid or minimize bad postures for back pain relief while sitting in Toronto.
All the research points to a flexed, hunched low back as being bad for your spine and low back, leading to back pain while sitting. The natural lordotic lumbar curve is designed to absorb compression on our spine, kind of like a giant spring.
If you hunch and slouch and lose this curve, you lose this ability of your spine to absorb that compression. Instead of the curve absorbing a lot of the compressive force, the stress is instead transmitted onto the disc, joints, bones, and nerves in your low back, which was NOT designed for that purpose.
This leads to disc bulges, disc herniations, arthritis, spinal stenosis, and back PAIN.
So how do we avoid this back pain while sitting in Toronto? Assume a posture that minimizes hunching and slouching.
A simple thing to do when you sit is to not sit on the front of the chair, and then scoot your pelvis/butt back. That immediately flexes your pelvis, and rounds your low back into that hunched posture, leading to back pain while sitting. Bad.
Better is to move your butt all the way to the back support of the chair, then slide your butt down, so that you maintain your natural pelvic alignment and lumbar curvature. Sitting like this will help to ensure back pain relief while sitting, even if it’s for hours and hours. Simple, but it works.
Lumbar supports are also good for back pain relief while sitting, to help maintain some of the low back curvatures, but also to remind us to “sit up straight”, and maintain good posture.
3. Break the slouching habit in your car for back pain relief while driving in Toronto.
To stay more upright when you’re driving, a simple reminder is to raise the rear-view mirror up a tiny bit, so that to properly use it you’d have to sit up relatively straight. When you start slouching, you’ll have an instant reminder of this, and can gradually over time retrain that slouched, hunched posture. This little tip can really help with back pain relief while driving.
4. Focus on your neck to sit with back pain relief.
Try this experiment: Sit, and then slouch through your upper back and neck, allowing your head to shoot forward into the hunched posture (now termed text neck).
What happened to the normal curve in your low back? It disappeared, right? As the neck moves forward over the body, in that hunched posture, the natural curve in your low back is lost.
Can you see how sitting at a computer, staring at it, or down at your smart phone, drags your head forward, and decreases that low back curve?
A simple exercise to help with this, and bring awareness to it, is neck retraction.
Periodically throughout the day, maybe once per hour, pull your chin back to pull your whole head and neck back over your shoulders. Do this 5-10 times. This will strengthen some of those weakened neck muscles, but also reminds you periodically not to slouch, helping not only your neck but also helping you to sit for back pain relief in Toronto.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.
All the best, Dr. Byron Mackay