So, there has recently been an article published concerning the rising prevalence of Lower Back Pain (LBP) in men in their thirties, claiming that “Sitting is the new smoking!” Consequently I was very kindly asked to be on the Mark Dennison show on BBC Radio Nottingham on Thursday morning 25th June 2015 to give my thoughts on the subject.
If you missed it and wish to listen back then you can do so within the next month by copying this link into your browser http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02sys1m and scrolling along to 1hr 16 minutes into the show.
Thanks to Grace Nathan for inviting me, to Mark Dennison for hosting, and to Declan Mullan for appearing with me!
In brief, my thoughts are this…
Yes I believe that our lifestyles of prolonged sitting at desks, in cars, on sofas and the like are vastly raising our chances or severity of LBP.
Sitting for prolonged periods can shorten the hip flexor muscles at the front of the pelvis and hips, and lengthen and “switch off” the hip extensors, predominantly the glutes, in our buttocks.
As a consequence of this, when we stand up at the end of the day and ask our bodies to walk, run and do sport, they do so inefficiently as the glutes and other core stabilising muscles are unable to fire as they should do, thus leaving our pelvis and spine potentially unstable. To compensate for this, the body will recruit the “mover muscles” to take over the stabilising role, which they not only do inadequately, but in doing so they are then unavailable to do their original job of “moving us.”
The end result of all this can be apparent stiffness and inefficiency of movement, and if the dysfunction persists then ultimately pain can occur.
There is obviously an optimum position for us to be in with all the joints in our body stacked up congruently on top of each other whether we are sitting or standing; however, our bodies are designed to move and thus even an apparent “perfect posture” should not be sustained for long periods of time.
We should aim to keep moving subtly but frequently throughout the day. Whilst working at your desk you can be tilting your pelvis forward and back, gliding or rotating your ribs side to side, rolling your shoulders backwards, lengthening your neck and pulling your chin in.
Pushing your feet into the floor, squeezing your buttocks etc. etc…and all whilst still maintaining concentration at your keyboard!
Standing desks are certainly an option as your hips can remain in extension resulting in more chance of maintaining firing of your glutes and “core” muscles, and you can easily move in many ways from your static position. Even better would be desks that can be altered up and down to mix up sitting and standing throughout the day.
Similar movements as mentioned for desks can be done in the car but only when safe to do so. If you always drive with one hand on the wheel, switch hands for periods of time or try both hands on the wheel at the same time in different positions.
When sitting or lounging on the sofa, try and mix up your position…swap which way you curl your legs under you, change ends of the sofa, lie on your other side…ensure your life is “symmetrically asymmetrical!”
So, to conclude…
To reduce your chances or intensity of LBP… JUST MOVE!!
…and if that fails, then come and see me for a full assessment and treatment programme!