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Standing Up to Back Pain
Every year, tens of millions of people suffer from some form of back pain ranging from mild muscle aches to back spasms to having a degenerative condition of the back muscles, joints and discs themselves. However, most forms of back pain are very mild in nature and will clear up over a few days with the proper rest and using over the counter medication along with applications of heat or massage to the affected area. For those who suffer from frequent attacks of back pain, preventing the conditions from occurring is the desired goal. While there are exercises that can help strengthen the back muscles, such as walking for example that are low impact and help circulate the blood. One of the most intriguing new theories about how to prevent back pain may be as simple as remaining standing more often.
Alternating between Standing & Sitting
A recent series of studies have shown that alternating between standing and sitting every 30 minutes throughout the day can help prevent back pain. In addition, such alternations can also be the equivalent of 45 minutes of exercise as well. One such study was performed at the Mont Albert Primary School in Melbourne. Students were supplied with desks that were adjustable so they could either stand or sit during the day. This enabled them to reduce the time in being inactive inside the classroom as they could easily adjust the desks themselves. The eight month study demonstrated to researchers the value of alternating between standing and sitting could improve their back muscles, but it also demonstrated that their level of concentration was actually improved as well. Once student even commented about how they thought it would be tiring to stand, but in actuality more work was accomplished during the day. In Australia alone, there are more than 2 million people who suffer from back problems every year. In many cases, the way we sit for long periods of time contributes to the back pain, at least according to many health professionals.
The Benefits of Standing and Sitting
The research has demonstrated that sitting for extended periods of time in the same position can increase the stress levels on the discs in the back located between the vertebrae and cause the natural curve to fall apart. This reduces the stability and the flexibility of the spine itself, causing more inflammation, pain and even the degeneration of the spine. A study by the Heart Foundation at Baker’s laboratory used 20 office workers as part of their research as they alternated between standing and sitting. The result was that the employees actually burned 13% more energy than when they were seated all day. Such results are not surprising considering that standing up uses more muscles which must stay active to support and balance the body. The net gain in terms of burning more energy while standing and sitting during the day in 30 minute intervals could be the equivalent of walking 45 minutes each day. Such an effect on the body can have significant impact on health that goes beyond back pain alone. Heart Disease: By standing, the circulation improves and the heart is actually working more to support the muscles of the body. Diabetes: The greater blood circulation also combats the effects of diabetes as well. By increasing the circulation, it can supply blood to the extremities in more abundant amounts which can combat the effects of diabetes. Fitness: Because the muscles are being used more when standing, the entire body gets to receive the benefits. Since alternating between standing and sitting every half hour is roughly the same as a brisk, 45 minute walk each day, the muscles of the body get a potential workout that otherwise might be missed.
The Potential Issues of Standing for Longer Periods of Time
Of course, there are some factors that play against standing more during the day to deter the effects of back pain. In fact, for some there may be better alternatives available that can help alleviate the pain without having to stand more often. Space: Getting up for a half hour to continue your work will means having to move your keyword and monitor up to a new position or having a special desk built that allows you to pull away the chair or stool so you can stand. Many people at work do not have this option without paying a considerable amount out of pocket. Shoes: For those who are going to be standing longer, you will need the right arch support to ensure that your feet are not unduly affected by the additional standing. This means purchasing shoes that offer such support or inserts that can do the same thing. In any case, wearing the wrong type of shoes can actually cause back pain as the body tries to re-adjust while standing. There are of course alternatives to standing and sitting that also have a positive effect which can help avoid potential back pain. One of the most potent is exercising on a regular basis, particularly the type of exercises that can strengthen the back muscles. Exercising five days a week can help build up back muscles so that they are less likely to cause pain and discomfort during the day. Getting up every 30 minutes or so and walking around the office for a few minutes can prevent the body from settling into an uncomfortable position that can cause back pain to occur. For those who can alternate between standing and sitting at work or in school, the benefits are certainly present that can allow you to experience less back pain and even avoid the degeneration of the spine which can occur when sitting too long. This means that for those who suffer from frequent bouts of minor, muscular back pain, alternating between standing and sitting may provide a considerable amount of relief as well as the prevention of many instances of back pain as well.View our range of back supports.