Some of the obvious purported culprits of back pain are weak muscles, stress, sedentary lives, being overweight, and age. However, there are some very little reported theories and solutions on back pain and I want to share this information with my readers because I believe it's insightful.
Until the 20th Century, debilitating back pain was not common in our society, but today it's extremely prevalent.
One of the reasons for this is that starting in the 1920s, the fashion industry began showing models with their pelvises and necks thrusted forward, and hunched or with rounded shoulders. Basically, it became fashionable to slouch. Furniture then started being designed to be "more comfortable," thus allowing for poor posture habits to develop and set in.
But if you were to visit a rural village in say Portugal or Africa today, you'd see that these poor posture transformations never took place, and you'd get a sense of what healthy posture looks like.
- The pelvis is tipped forward or anteverted (An easy way to see this is to imagine a belt line and notice that it angles downward toward the front).
- The shoulders are positioned posteriorly relative to the torso, with the result that the arms align with the back of the torso.
- The front contour of the torso is dome-like and smooth. The chest is full with a raised sternum as a result of the chest expanding with every breath.
- The chin, and an imaginary line joining the middle of the ear and the tip of the nose, angle downward as a result of a relaxed and elongated cervical spine.
- The buttocks muscles are well developed because they are in position of mechanical advantage and are used in walking.
What's happened to us here in the USA and other westernized countries is that modern life, such as computer use, molds the spine into an S or C shape. The key is to start doing things that will help to re-shape your back into its natural J shape, with a focus on your backside. You want to sit tall and stand tall!
So what's the ancient secret to unlocking the cure?
Step 1. Turn every step into a rep, squeeze your Glutes (Buttocks) as you walk to strengthen them constantly.
Step 2. Create that natural J shape in your spine by wedging your pelvis back when you sit. (Don't tuck your pelvis).
Step 3. Support your mid back (not your lower back) in the car with a cushion or cloth.
If you're looking for more detailed lessons and instructions on understanding posture and how to reduce or cure your back pain, I'd suggest a book from Esther Gokhale that I've read, and based and sourced this article on, called "8-Steps to a Pain Free Back."
Jack Witt, MS, CPT
Fitness and Health Coach
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