Back Wrecker #1: Weekend Warrior
So you have spent all week sitting idle in front of a computer, and now that the weekend arrives, you plunge headlong into all the household chores that have been building up.
Three hours of gardening, no problem!
There is a problem, our bodies are more than likely out of whack from all that sitting and inactivity.
When we are inactive for periods of time, our bodies becomes stiff, and our muscles become tight.
So how do we prevent this?
1) Regular exercise during the week, even if it is short intervals, will help your increase blood flow to the muscles and reduce tightness.
2) Get out of your seat, and move around during the working day. Adding in a few stretches will also help increase the blood flow to the muscles.
This is why stretching forms an important part of most Pilates sessions.
Back Wrecker #2: Poor Lifting Technique
Who has ever bent down to pick a pen up off the floor and felt there back give out?
It’s certainly not from the weight of the pen, but rather the poor lifting technique.
If you have ever watched a baby lifting, you will notice that they lift correctly. Bend and lift with your knees! Poor lifting techniques are formed through our laziness, as lifting correctly is an innate process.
How? By adopting the correct lifting technique.
Try standing with your feet hip width apart and come into a squat, in this position you are able to maintain the correct alignment of your spine.
70% of your body weight should be in your heels, and your back should maintain its S shape.
We all know that sometimes it is easier to tune out, than it is to stay present in the moment.
This is certainly true for me on a long run, I am often guilty of throwing on the headphones and going hell for leather.
However this can be dangerous, as when we are not paying attention to our bodies we increase our susceptibility to injury.
We don’t focus on the correct technique which is important to minimise our risk of injury.
Our back pain can originate from poor technique.
Whether that be rotation through the spine, or a result of the lumbar muscles bearing to much force.
Think about engaging your core through imagery. Imagine that you are drawing your navel to the spine, or trying to get into a really tight air of jeans.
By doing so, you will activate your deep core muscles. This strengthens your body and provides support to your lower back.
Pilates exercises provide a great opportunity to develop your core strength through dynamic movement. The development of core strength during class provides an easy transfer to all other activities, such as running.
If you are experiencing back pain you also want to think about avioding rotation of the spine. Rotation of the spine increases the shear forces acting on the discs which can inturn make your pain worse.
Avoiding rotation is simple, you can do this by focusing on keeping your hips square to an object in front of you.
Part of every day life involves long periods of sitting.
For most of us it is a huge part of our life, whether that be for work or leisure.
Why is sitting so bad for us? There are a few reasons, but the main reason relates to compressive forces acting on the spine.
When we sit, the force of gravity increases to anywhere between 40-90% of that of standing.
The variability relates to our posture when sitting. When seated we can often struggle to maintain the natural curves of our spine. This increases pressure in segments of the spine, as it does not allow for an even transfer of force through the length of the spine.
Make sure that you have a workstation review, this will ensure that your lumbar support is in the correct position.
Check that your monitor is in the correct position. Your monitor should be located so that your eyes horizontally hit the bottom third of the screen.
If you are not sure it is helpful to have someone review your set up.
Secondly make sure that you get out of your chair regularly, walk over to your colleague’s desk rather than sending that email.
This not only provides you with health benefits, it may also help get you a faster response.
Here’s to improving your back health.