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How to avoid back pain

Have you ever wanted to improve your posture, or help avoid back pain?


In our latest blog, top Cannonballer and registered Chiropracter Aidan Robinson takes us through all things posture. What it is, why it is important and how you can improve it. You can find out more about Aidan here: https://www.facebook.com/itrmchiro/

 

Posture is particularly relevant during the Covid lockdown. Lots of us are still working from home, where we’re not moving as much as we’re used to, and perhaps using a chair that isn’t designed to be sat on all day.

 

Over to Aidan…………..

 

Definitions of posture vary from “the position in which someone holds their body when standing or sleeping” to “a particular approach or attitude”

 

Let’s start with some controversy!

 

In my opinion, there is no such thing as “perfect posture”.

 

From more than 20 years clinical experience I say that we have to adopt a more mentally dynamic approach to our assessment of posture.

 

So that you are clear I’m not talking here about the impact that mental health can have on our posture, the interconnected nature of mind and body is undoubtedly a very important one. In fact it’s so important that it’s just too big a subject to address here and I wouldn’t want to do that part a disservice, all I am discussing here is the biomechanics of posture and the so called ideal or perfect posture.

 

Now that’s not to say that striving for a “perfect posture” is wrong, but rather that we need to go a bit easier on ourselves when aiming for that.

 

For me personally, and professionally what I tell my patients, is that anyone in any situation may have a classical “perfect posture” but that is not doing you any good if you are not moving and constantly changing your body position.

 

Not only that but is the perfect or ideal posture for sitting, the same as standing or lying, walking, lifting or running?

 

Your posture should be dynamic and dependent on what you’re doing at that time.

 

Briefly, when we hold any position for longer than approximately one hour there will be reduction in the amount of fluid in the space between one bone and its neighbour - in what we call the joint space. Now this time frame varies massively depending on such factors as which joint we are looking at, as well as weight, age, sex, overall health etc etc etc.

 

I base this one hour based on animal studies, as well as my own personal and professional experience.

 

These studies have shown that the joint will start to become less mobile as the joint fluid, (Synovial fluid) is reabsorbed by the cartilage cap around the bone.

 

This then leads to the risk of the cartilage caps touching and possibly rubbing together which can lead to early wear in the joint space, but more significantly there is a risk that parts of the bones will also begin to touch, this can lead to new bone growth as the bones try to join together. Now this is great if you’re trying to repair a break in the middle of a bone, but not so good when a mobile joint is becoming fused together.

 

The technical term for new bone growth due to degeneration or damage is Osteophytes and this is a major marker of what we eventually call Osteoarthritis or Joint wear and tear.

 

Granted this is not a major problem if you are young fit and healthy but as we know it is the gradual accumulation of lots of little injuries that lead to a major problem overtime, and prolonged immobility in youth leads to earlier and more immobility in later life.

 

So, easy answer, keep constantly moving, whatever your posture is, don’t stay in one position for more than 1 hour.

 

That was simple right, well almost..!

 

When sitting or standing we are subject to the pesky effect of gravity pulling our entire body toward the centre of the earth. If we aren’t loading our joints correctly then our body weight will begin to compress areas that shouldn’t be and over a long enough time period, (years) the joints will stop being separate and will start to fuse together.

 

So when we are sitting and standing the key things to remember are head upright and chin retracted, shoulder blades slightly squeezed together. Make sure your low back is centred between your hip bones and that your feet (if possible) should be flat on the floor.

 

Within the spine this keeps the body weight more toward the vertebral bodies and less on the joints (facet joints) at the back of the vertebrae, which as you know are designed for movement not weight bearing.

 

Outside the spine if the shoulders are turned inwards (internally rotated) then the top of the arm bone (humeral head) can lead to compression of the joint between shoulder and the humerus leading to problems including shoulder impingement, and inflammation of the tendons of the shoulder (Tendinitis).

 

In the lower limb the junction between the Hip (Ilium) and upper leg (Femur) is compressed when sitting for any length of time. Additionally there is reduced movement at the knee and ankle, and I’ve seen many cases of low back pain caused by reduced ankle movement.

 

Now I know this sounds very depressing, but guess what! You can do something about it!

 

So, keep moving, keep hydrated and most of all stay positive!

 

Because now that you know the problem you’ve got control of this!

 

How can you help yourself? Well, if you can do some daily stretches in the opposite of the position that you find yourself in the majority of the day, that’s great. If you can also try and strengthen the muscles that help you stand up, then you will undoubtedly help yourself! Big hint the majority are at the back of the body!

 

Finally I wouldn’t be a Chiropractor if I didn’t say go and see a Chiropractor regularly for a check up on your posture, but let’s be honest, whoever you see, Chiropractor, Osteopath, Physiotherapist, Masseuse, Coach or Gym buddy, (apologies to anyone I’ve missed!) the key is to check in with someone who cares for your wellbeing and who can honestly help you achieve better posture awareness as well as overall physical and mental balance.

 

So that’s that then, I hope you enjoyed reading this and found it helpful. If you want to learn more get in touch with me at https://www.facebook.com/itrmchiro/

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