It’s no myth: poor posture can make your back hurt. The team of bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and more in your back must work together as designed in order to move freely and without discomfort. Sitting or standing incorrectly places pressure on your spine, causing the elements of your back to weaken and react.
What am I doing to hurt my back?
Daily activities that you don’t even think twice about may be harming your back. Spine surgeon Dr. Charla Fischer sees cases all the time related to patients’ posture. Bad habits that you may have developed when you sit, stand, walk, bend, lay down, or lift can contribute to how your back functions and feels. Here are some common things people do that Dr. Fischer says may be linked to back discomfort:
- Slouching when sitting
- Standing with your weight concentrated on only one leg
- Walking in a hunched over position
- Bending over to lift heavy objects
- Hunching over while doing chores like dish washing or gardening
- Lying on your stomach in bed
If some of those postures sound familiar and you’re experiencing a backache, maybe it’s time to make some changes. Also remember that lack of physical activity can also lead to back problems. Make sure you are staying active and moving around throughout your day.
How do those things cause back pain?
If you’re still finding it hard to believe poor posture can hurt your back, think about how stress from incorrect posture can affect your body. Spinal joints, discs, muscles, and more can be negatively affected by repeated bad posture. Here are some examples:
- Sitting or standing for long periods while hunching your back can weaken or strain your back and core muscles. You’ll end up weak and stiff in those areas.
- Sitting without any back support like a chair back to lean against can create a forward bend in your spine. This puts pressure on your discs, which can in turn become herniated.
- Laying on your stomach to use the computer or read a book causes an abnormal arch in your back and puts your spine out of alignment.
- Lifting heavy objects with your back instead of your legs may cause herniated discs and related pain that can even radiate down your legs.
What posture changes can I make to help my back?
There are easy fixes to bad posture that can make a big difference in how you feel. You just have to be aware and notice when you’re doing something wrong and make a conscious change to that behavior. One simple goal is to walk with our spine straight and head balanced evenly above your spine. Another idea is to sit with your back flush to the chair back, head evenly over your spine, and shoulders held back. Keep your feet evenly spaced apart flat on the floor or use a footrest so they can touch that way. Get up and walk around at least once every hour to exercise your back muscles and relieve pressure on your spine. Finally, focus on using correct lifting techniques by never bending forward to pick objects up using your back strength. Instead, bend your knees and keep your back straight. If objects are very heavy, enlist help so you don’t injure your back.
Ergonomics are important when it come to a healthy back. Ask an expert like Dr. Fischer for more tips about correct posture to eliminate existing back pain and prevent more issues from arising.