Many of us lead a day to day life that involves a lot of sitting down. Sitting on our commute to work in the morning, at work for 8 hours, our commute home and when we relax in the evening. Many of us hold the belief that we must sit in a certain way - “good posture” - and that there is an unhealthy way to sit - “bad posture.” We may also believe that sitting itself is bad for our health, but is this actually the case?
In an article in the Guardian last year a UK chiropractor, backed by scientific research, provides a different perspective.
The article challenges the conventional thinking behind the two types of posture: “bad posture” and “good posture.” In other words, slumped forward as opposed to holding oneself upright with a straight back, respectively. What recent research has shown is that posture may not play as big a role as we initially thought and what is more important is activity level.
The article then presents that we should focus less strictly on posture as a driver of back pain as there is no “one size fits all” posture. Rather, using the full range of our capabilities through activity has been shown to be one of the best ways to help prevent back pain. When we are active we are using our bodies as they are meant to be used.
I attended the World Chiropractic Congress (www.epic2019.net) in Berlin in March, 2019. I was able to collaborate with many world-renowned researchers and chiropractors who are at the fore-front of research and knowledge in spine care. I remember during one lecture we were discussing sitting! A colleague of the famous Dr Stuart McGill (back-pain researcher) explained that sitting is important in our daily life for the purposes of rest and recuperation after standing and moving while we work. Problems arise when sitting becomes the norm and is no longer for rest and recuperation but rather takes up the majority of our day, taking the place of movement and activity.
Put these perspectives together and it becomes clear. Sitting itself is not bad: it’s the lack of activity that occurs simultaneously that is the problem. This lack of activity means our body is not being used in the way it is designed. There is no general consensus as to the exact mechanisms for why this leads to pain on a structural and physical level, but we know it is the case. Besides, pain is very complex and perhaps a topic for another blog.
The world of back pain is a complicated area and we begin to unearth conflicting viewpoints if we look deep enough. For someone who is keen to avoid back pain themselves, there is one definitive thing to remember: lead an active life and make good health choices. By doing so you will give yourself the best possible chance of avoiding back pain and living a happy and healthy life!
Wishing you good health and happiness.
Bhandari, S & Sanders M (2019). ‘How to prevent back pain.’ The Guardian, 26 August. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/aug/26/how-to-prevent-back-pain (Accessed: 22 April 2020).