Posture – that is how the various parts of your body are positioned at a given time – will greatly affect how much pressure is exerted upon your spine as well as, perhaps more importantly, how that pressure is exerted. As we’ve seen, the spine is at best a somewhat unstable structure whose design is such that it takes relatively little of the wrong kind of pressure to set off back pain. The ‘building-blocks’ that make up the spine will be at their most effective and stable in carrying the weight of the upper body when your back is relatively straight, as well as supported correctly whenever support is possible or available. Translating these general principles into specific recommendations, you’ll reduce the demands placed upon your spine by following these guidelines:
When walking, try to maintain as upright a posture as possible, keeping your shoulders reasonably far back rather than allowing them to drop forwards. Keep your head up straight – as though it were suspended from an imaginary ’sky hook’.
Also, seek to maintain an upright posture when standing still. However, if you have to stand still for any length of time, do try to move somewhat, even if it’s only a few steps, at frequent intervals. Not only will this make it easier for you to stand upright and avoid slouching, it will also help the blood circulate better to your legs and lower body.
When seated, make sure that the chair you’re using gives good support for the small of your back and also is of the correct height for you. Heavily-padded ’soft’ chairs you sink into are usually bad news for your back as is half-lying, half-sitting on a sofa or large easy chair. Once again, try to keep your spine and head as upright as possible.
Other excellent recommendations to reduce the risk of back and muscle trouble are to be found in Muscles Matter, a booklet published by DDD/Dendron Ltd, the makers of Ibuleve, from which many of these tips for members of groups especially at risk have been extracted.