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Your first step to recovery

Pressure on the Spine in Different Posture

Did You Know?

 

Low back pain is a common health problem which affects up to 80% of the population at some stage in their life.

 

In New Zealand ACC spends in excess of $130 million a year treating back pain related injuries.

Most back pain occurs between the ages of 25 and 60, and most typically in the 40s.

 

 

 

In an era of smart devices, posture has never been more important or harder to achieve. As technology continues to grow, sitting at a desk on a computer or on our phones is becoming more prevalent at work. Having a sedentary desk job can result in sitting for around 8 hours a day. This position actually increases the load on your spine more than standing. Spinal pressure “sits” around 140mm pressure. This pressure usually does not hurt the back right away however, builds up over time and can even change the structure structure of your spine. So, if you slouch then spinal pressure increases to 190mm; add some weight and you’ve put 275 pounds of pressure on your spine.

 

A compromised spine constricts your blood vessels and nerves, causing problems with your muscles, discs, and joints. And all of these problems can lead to headaches, fatigue, and even breathing problems. Your back is a delicate machine. When one part falls out of alignment, it can affect everything setting off a domino effect and wreak havoc throughout your back and body.

 

 


Below is a graph showing different postures and the pressure it exerts on the spine;


But, remember: While you may feel comfortable and supported in your chair and find a perfect sitting posture, staying in the same position for long periods is not healthy for your spine. Varying your postures by occasionally standing and moving around for at least a few minutes each half hour will help keep your spinal joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments loose and pain free.

 

Stand Up for Your Spine

If you don’t have a sit-stand desk, you can still combat “sitting disease” and protect your spine. Consider these tips:

  • Do some work standing at a high table or counter.

  • Use a lumbar roll behind your back when sitting to improve seated posture

  • Set a timer on your computer for a stand-and-stretch break every 30 minutes.

  • Exercise to assist in improving body weight to lessen additional load on the spine

  • Strengthen the core to provide additional support

The focus is simple: Reduce your sitting throughout the day. But, remember that varying postures is best for your back and neck, so do not go the opposite extreme and never sit. Alternating sitting, standing and movement throughout your day is the best way you can keep your spine safe and body healthy—at work and beyond

 

Still having back pain?

Schedule an initial assessment with one of our Physiotherapists so they can determine the root of the problem.  During this assessment your physiotherapist will be able to decide whether your pain is a source of nerve root irritation, discogenic, postural related, or musculoskeletal.  After arriving with the consensus of the problem, we will be able to use many techniques to relieve the back pain.  These include: manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and postural recommendations.

 

To find your nearest Physio Fusion clinic and book an appointment call 09 6266186 or visit our website https://physiofusion.co.nz

Do You Have a Healthy Work Station Set Up?

An ergonomically correct workstation has all the best practices to help maintain a healthy posture and improve your health and productivity.

Here are a few helpful tips;

1. Set up your screen

Adjust the monitor height so that the top of the screen is at—or slightly below—eye level. Your eyes should look slightly downward when viewing the middle of the screen. Position the monitor at least 20 inches (51 cm) from your eyes—about an arm’s length distance. If you have a larger screen, add more viewing distance.


2. Set up your chair

  • Height – You should be able to sit with your feet flat on the floor and your thighs roughly parallel to the floor. If you require a taller chair in order to reach the floor you can use a foot rest to ensure you achieve the right angle.

  • Backrest Recline and Tilt – Research has shown that a reclined seat (at least 135 degrees back)  significantly reduces the pressure on your back, and is particularity beneficial for people with back

  • Lumbar support – the shape of the backrest should have a natural curve to support your lower back.

  • Arm rests – Look for armrests that are not just height adjustable and support the entire length of the forearms.


3. Adjust your Desk Height

  • Your legs should fit comfortably under the desk if you are sitting with your feet flat on the floor: you should have enough space to cross your legs.

  • The angle between your forearm and upper arm should be between 90 degrees and 110 degrees while your arms are at rest on the desk.

  • Make your desk organized using storage accessories i.e. Document holders

  • Use an ergonomic mouse pad; to keep your wrists supported.


4. Organizing your Desk space

Organize all the items on the workstation according to their priorities and assign them to the proper ergonomic reach zones.

  • Primary Zone: High use items, easiest access

  • Secondary Zone :Medium use items, comfortable reach

  • Third Zone: Low use items, reduction in efficiency

:sparkles: MOVEMENT IS KEY :sparkles:

Its a simple action step, but mighty! Get up out of your chair and take frequent posture breaks!

When we sit in one position for hours without moving, our performance slowly starts to deteriorate, our body slows down, static loading takes over our muscles and we actually get fatigued even when we aren’t putting in any physical effort. However, when you consciously integrate these microbreaks into your day, you’re giving your body a much-needed refresher and an opportunity to wake up your muscles and replenish blood flow. Research has shown that movement can also help with creativity, or get you ‘unstuck’ so you can approach your work with a different or fresh perspective and energy.

If you think your desk set up could be better, or want us to have a quick look we can do this via a video call. Book in for an appointment www.physiofusion.co.nz or give us a call on (09) 626 6186

Lifting Mechanics

IS IT DANGEROUS TO LIFT WITH A BENT BACK?

One common belief about lifting is that rounding your back when lifting an object is considered dangerous while lifting with a straight back is considered safe…

 

 

However, there is a lot of misinformation circulating around lifting mechanics and what is deemed “good technique” versus “bad technique.”

Here are some key myths and misinformation that you may have heard:

 

A ROUNDED BACK WHILE LIFTING OVER STRESSES THE BACK MUSCLES AND LIGAMENTS

  • Research has shown that regardless of lifting position, whether you’re stooped, squatting or weightlifting, your back has to produce the same amount of force. Statistically speaking, it’s not significantly different.

 

 

FLEXING THE SPINE WHILE LIFTING INCREASES THE LOAD ON THE LUMBAR DISCS

  • Under heavy loads, discs are unlikely to fail unless >95% flexion is achieved (which is near impossible)

  • With low loads, the disc is unlikely to fail unless you do thousands of repetitions continuously

  • Your body is an amazing adapter, this includes discs! Your discs can adapt and become more and more able to handle loads when stressed appropriately

 

THESE COMPOUND TO CAUSE INJURIES AND PAIN TO THE BACK MUSCLES AND DISCS

  • Resistance training has demonstrated through countless studies the ability to increase bone mineral density (BMD) of the lumbar spine. BMD is actually positively associated with the strength of the spinal discs and ligaments at that level. With appropriate loading and training, disc, ligament, bone and muscles are going to adapt favourably

 

A NEUTRAL SPINE IS SAFER, STRONGER, MORE EFFICIENT AND BETTER TO LIFT WITH

  • There is no significant difference between activities that encourage more spinal flexion and one’s that do not in the long term

  • Lifting with lumbar flexion is not a risk factor for low back pain

  • Research has shown lifting with a bent back is more metabolically and neuromuscularly efficient

  • When the spine is in extension during bent over activities, the hip is actually flexed to a greater degree – decreasing the ability for the glutes and hamstrings to create as much internal torque. Flexing the spine reduces this effect and reduces the moment arm for the hip extensors

 

STOP BACK PAIN & INJURIES BY LIFTING WITH A NEUTRAL SPINE

  • Your lumbar spine flexes every time your hip flexes! It is impossible to isolate one versus the other. It is also impossible to not flex while doing common movements

  • Extreme flexion however (>/=100%), may pose an increased risk under heavy loads, but not at light loads

 

You may still be wondering why you have back pain (stay tuned for our next blog!). Your pain may not be directly related to your lifting strategy.

 

 

Could you have pain with forward bending? Absolutely.

Is bending at the lumbar spine an increased risk for pain or injury? In the vast majority of situations, no.

If I have pain with forward bending, is it bad to temporarily limit doing so? Not at all.

Should I fear bending at the spine with or without pain or injury? No. Being fearful of flexing/moving your spine is actually a stronger predictor of disability and back pain.

 

Work on moving through your spine, after all it’s what it is designed to do! Choose comfortable movements and gain confidence over time, then build up your strength gradually with resistance training – try and not to push too fast, we want nice, healthy adaptation! Give your body time to adapt, back pain is not quick fix sometimes but you are resilient and with healthy, normal movements and some patience, you will be okay.