Friday, November 4, 2011

Corporate Wellness: Encourage Micro-Breaks for Back Health by Anders N W Lindgreen

They say that nothing is certain in life besides death, taxes and lower back pain. The first two are not that hard to figure out, but did you also know that 70-90% of people will experience back-pain at least once in their life? It is true (or at least so researchers say). Just ask ten of your friends. I would be amazed to hear statistics of less than 8 out of 10, seriously. So with lower back pain being inevitable, what can we do to minimise the impact? Well, for one we can change the way we sit.

The Art of Sitting

Sitting down in any way, shape or form is great. But it is not the best thing for our lower backs or our posture, at least not the way we do it. You see after about 10-15 minutes of sitting our brain fails to recognise good posture and will start to slump (even more than before). It will push our head and shoulders forward, curve our spine like a big "C" form top to bottom and push the discs in our lower back our towards the back. Needless to say, it's not great for our back.

We Need Movement

The reason our brain lets everything hang out is because of the absence of movement. Without movement it becomes increasingly difficult for our brains to keep track of where we are in time and space, so it begins to switch our stabilisers of and gravity starts pulling us down.

Your Reality And What to Do About It

Let's say that you are sitting down for 8-10 hours per day with very few breaks to get up, this is the way your body will find itself most of the time. Spread that out over 5 days per week and add in all your time in the couch at home and it's not hard to realise why a few hours in the gym may not be enough to rectify 40-80 hours of poor sitting. But the solution is simple; you just have to be conscious about it.

Every 10-15 minutes (set an alarm to go off ever so often if you need to), stand up, move around and reset your posture. It will take you what, 10-15 seconds and while it won't strengthen your back it will reduce the negative impact and wear and tear on it. And while you are sitting, wring your shoulders back, sit up straight and pull the chin in.

While it may seem like an awful inconvenience to you, imagine what a bad back will do to your lifestyle and not to mention all the health care visits you will have to pay for. I'd take my micro-breaks if I were you.