By Mohd Asim Khan
Have you been feeling persistent or recurrent pain in the lower back of late? You are not alone. Lower back pain affects one out of 10 people worldwide, causes more disability around the world than any other condition and accounts for a third of all work-related disability, according to a study.
Though the reasons could be varied, one of the important contributing factors behind the nagging back pain is the incorrect posture, experts say.
Which means that you can considerably cut the chances of back and neck pain and other allied illnesses by maintaining the correct posture while sitting or standing.
But how would one know that the correct posture is being maintained while sitting in a chair?
“Good posture mainly refers to maintaining your body in a correct alignment with respect to gravity so that the body structures such as ligaments, muscles are in the least stressed position,” sports therapist Megha Bhatnagar of AktivOrtho told.
In the modern urban lifestyle, where white-collar jobs require people to sit for long hours, it is imperative to take good care of spine health. One of the least interventionist and easiest first steps is to maintain the right posture while sitting.
According to a Sydney School of Public Health study, the highest rates of disability due to back pain are found in Asia and parts of Africa.
“Improper posture in the long-term can give rise to chronic neck and low back problems. Therefore, it is very important to maintain a good posture whilst sitting and standing,” Raju Vaishya, senior orthopaedic consultant at the Indraprastha Apollo hospital.
The right posture decreases stress on ligaments and muscles holding the spine in an erect position, reduces abnormal wear and tear of the joints, eases strain on the muscles and thus prevents neck pain, back pain, shoulder and knee pain and the like.
What then is the correct sitting posture in a chair?
“Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your buttocks should touch the back of your chair. All three normal back curves should be present while sitting,” Bhatnagar suggested.
“A small, rolled-up towel or a lumbar roll can be used to help you maintain the normal curves in your back,” she added.
To achieve the right sitting position, sit at the end of your chair and slouch completely. Then draw yourself up and accentuate the curve of your back as far as possible. Hold for a few seconds. Release the position slightly (about 10 degrees). This is a good sitting posture, according to Bhatnagar.
“While sitting in a chair, keep your knees even with or slightly higher than your hips. Your legs should not be crossed,” she advised.
According to Yashpal Singh Bundela, senior neurosurgery consultant at the BLK Super Speciality Hospital here, one should not sit in one position for more than 30 minutes.
“Also, you should adjust the height of your chair so that your thighs come in a parallel position to the floor,” Bundela told.
Besides, there are a few more precautions that experts say one should always keep in mind. For example, when sitting in a chair that rolls and pivots, don’t twist at the waist while sitting. Instead, turn your whole body.
Similarly, when standing, do so by straightening your legs. Avoid bending forward at your waist.
“Try and go to your colleague’s desk and discuss rather than over the inter-com or through chat,” Bhatnagar said.
One can also use backrests available in the market. “Backrests can give sufficient support to the lower back and are especially useful for people who cannot keep their back and buttocks splinted against the chair at all times,” Vaishya said.
Also, it is important to have a good chair. Poor furniture does not provide ample support to back and thighs and thus, poorly designed chairs may create problems in the long run, experts warned.