Movement is a very healthy habit for us all. It keeps the muscles conditioned and the cardiovascular system more efficient. In turn, blood and oxygen can nourish every part of our body a little easier.
Our bodies respond to how we treat them. If we stay in one position for too long, such as standing or sitting, we put excess stress in certain areas and get stiff as a result. If we aren’t in an ideal posture during these static periods, then the effect on our body is even more dramatic. When this sort of practice is continued day in and day out, our stiffness becomes a chronic problem and can lead to more serious consequences.
Low back pain is usually an accumulation of poor habits over time. When someone bends over to pick something up and their back “goes out,” it’s probably not that one incident that did most of the damage. The damage usually occurs over time when we don’t practice moving correctly. We have to learn efficient ways to bend, lift, reach, sit and stand that actually help build our tone rather than create atrophy.
Here are a few suggestions on how not to let your work life create nagging body aches that could lead to more serious problems.
» If you sit a lot, try getting up every 20 to 30 minutes, even if it’s for a 20-second reach-to-the-sky stretch. Preferably you could go get a drink of water or use the restroom. If you stand in one position often, then try shifting your weight from side to side every once in awhile. Stand with your knees and ankles bent at all times. This change in body position and additional movement will really help with decreasing overall stiffness.
» Position your keyboard and monitor directly in front of you. Your keyboard should be at armrest height, and the top of your monitor screen should be at eye level. This will help decrease neck and shoulder problems.
» Sit with a lumbar support roll against your low back so that your back is straight and your shoulders are back and down. Keep your chin tucked toward your chest and your head directly over your shoulders. Rock your hips 10 times every 20 minutes so that your belly button goes up and your tailbone goes down.
These practices should help alleviate some of the discomfort typically experienced by the working class. Even if you are asymptomatic, it’s still a great idea to practice these exercises.
Remember that prevention is the best cure. Now is the best time to do something.
— Dr. Bob Wilcher is a chiropractor and personal trainer in Santa Barbara. He owns Killer B Fitness, a personal and group training studio also located in Santa Barbara. Contact Wilcher at www.killerbfitness.com or 805.448.2222.