Have the spine for this?

Have the spine for this?

If you sit idle for long periods every day, it can put pressure on discs and muscles of your back, warns Dr K Shanmugam


If you have the habit of sitting in a poor posture for prolonged periods, it can place stress on your spinal column. It causes the nerves and blood vessels to constrict and cause problems with your discs, joints and muscles thus causing back pain.

Excess weight increases the risk of degenerative disc disease by up to 79 per cent. The discs in the spinal column have to compensate for the pressure caused by extra weight, which can lead to herniation and sciatica. The pressure caused by excess weight can aggravate spinal arthritis, and trigger osteoarthritis.

If you sit idle for long periods every day, it can put pressure on discs and muscles of your back. It can also result in tight hip flexors, and put pressure and restrict the blood flow to your buttocks, which is an important support for the spine. Slouching can also stretch your spinal ligaments beyond the healthy limit.

A study where researchers assigned new mattresses to over 300 people found that people who used medium-firm mattresses reported minimal discomfort while sleeping. Sleeping on your back is best as it evenly distributes your body weight. Place a small, firm pillow under your head and neck to keep your spine in a neutral position. Avoid sleeping face down as this position does not support spinal alignment and puts extra pressure on your joints. Since you can’t breathe with your face to the pillow, you have to turn your head to the side, which twists your neck.

If your job requires you to sit for eight hours or more every day, keep your back straight and your arms at right angles to your elbows. Your feet should rest on the ground. It is important to maintain the right posture while walking. Your head should be balanced on your spine and you should look straight ahead while walking. Do not droop your shoulders.

Always warm up before you start a workout. Not doing so will worsen your back pain and can lead to new injuries. If your muscles have been dormant for a long time, they become inflexible which exposes them to wear and tear when exposed to sudden exertion. It is also advisable to start with full-body stretching exercises as tight muscles can exacerbate back pain. Pay attention to your hips and hamstrings.

After every workout, take a few minutes and stretch. If you are interested in weightlifting, make sure you start with light weights and increase the load gradually. Do not curve your back while lifting weights. If you perform planks or push-ups, don’t sink your hips.
Dr K Shanmugam

(The author is assistant chief medical officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute)


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