Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pain in the back - literally

My posture has never been the best. While my knuckles aren't dragging the ground when I walk, my slumped walk may predate the Neanderthals.

One thing that probably doesn't help my posture or my back in general is my habit of crossing my legs at the computer. I read somewhere recently (though I can't find the reference) that this is bad. While I will attempt to adopt better posture - difficult since I've already uncrossed my legs twice while writing this entry - some simple exercises can be helpful as well. And if we can shed a few extra pounds, that's even less pressure on the spine.

I'm not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV), but back pain seems to get a little worse as we age. Knees, too, but that's a topic for another day. If yours is more serious than mild discomfort, the American Spinal Decompression Association has some information on non-surgical ways to help.

Maybe we'd all have been better off if we listened to Mom or our teachers when they said, "Sit up straight." I still have my doubts starving children in third world countries would have wanted to eat cauliflower.


Dr. Ben Kuhn said...

You should check out a chiropractic technique called NUCCA.

It is based off of correcting misalignments of the upper cervical spine because such misalignments are key in postural breakdown. AS long as you think about "sitting up straight", you can do so, but as soon as you are not actively focusing on it, then your body returns to it's "default" based on your misalignment. Correcting the misalignment corrects your default posture, meaning you don't have to think about it to "sit up straight".

40-Year-Old Blog said...

Thanks Doc. Good to get feedback. A lot of people have a "computer slump" and if I'm not thinking about sitting up straight, I find myself slouched over.

Jeff Csatari said...

My physical therapist told me my back pain is from tight hamstrings and all the sitting I do at work. My back gets rounded as my shoulders slump toward the keyboard of my computer.

Doing hamstring stretches has helped. So has this simple stretch you can do at your desk, the scapular retraction:

Sit on the edge of your desk chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on your hips. Gently raise your chest toward the ceiling while keeping your chin level with the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, then squeeze your shoulder blades together, feeling the stretch in your chest.

You can find more stretches like this in the Men's Health book "Your Best Body at 40+."

Full disclosure: I wrote the book. I think it can really help people struggling with the aches and weight gain that comes during this crucial decade.

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