Care your backbone to avoid discomforts in future

Close your eyes for a moment, and just count the moments you were busy in job, either sitting or standing. If your standing and sitting posture while at job is not perfect, you can invite a lot of disorders in the early part of your life. Before you reach 50, conditions such as body pain, back pain, tiredness of legs, swelling in anklets and knees, spondylitis etc can conquer you easily. If you don’t want to become a victim of such handful dreadful conditions before retirement, you should take care of your backbone and other body parts before such discomforts actually set in. It’s always better to live a long life without the aid of medicines such as painkillers, and it’s possible as well if you desire so.

Never give too much strain to your backbone

Continuous posture, either in sitting mode or standing mode adds extra pressure to backbone. Backbone is severe in ladies comparing their counterparts. According to body structure, ladies have less number of muscles and more fat, comparing with males. That’s one major reason behind back pain. If your body muscles around joints have enough strength, they support the body well. In short, to reduce back pain, strengthen the muscles.

Back pain starts with pain beneath the back bone. After that it’s not easy to bend or turn around. Then only we start recognizing ‘yes, I have back pain’. 

Back bone is a composite structure of 33 bones. In between each pair of bones, there is a jelly like substance called disc (intervertebral disc) which acts as a shock absorbent and also reduces the pressure exerted on back bone. Disc also makes the bending and turning of back bone easy. If you sit in the same posture too long, it reduces the cushion effect of lower side of disc, which gradually leads to back pain. In some cases, this extra pressure added to the lower side of disc can affect the connecting nerves as well. That’s why pain slowly extends from back to legs.

Back bone has 4 bends – backward bends at neck and stomach portions and forward bends at chest and waist portions.  When you bend your neck and shoulders forward, it alters the natural bending posture of back bone. Also, muscles in those bended portions are contracted. If you continue this unhealthy sitting posture for long time, those muscles get shrunken permanently, resulting in unnatural body structure.

While you stand for long hours

Teachers, salesman/saleswomen and sales managers stand for long hours while working. They stand erect while they are at work. Obviously they can’t maintain the same posture when they stand for prolonged hours. Their muscles weaken and get tired affecting the normal body structure. Without strengthening muscles, they can’t stand erect for long hours.

Varicose vein is the main villain in people who stand for long hours. Nerves in legs may swell and cause pain and discomforts giving early symptoms. It is advisable to use socks or bandage till the upper part of the knee in such cases, which gives enough support to legs to stand for long hours.

While standing, distance between the legs should be equivalent to shoulder joints. While teaching in class rooms, you can give support to knees while standing in podium.

Never exert full body weight in same leg for long hours. Instead change it alternatively to reduce the extra pressure given to one part of the body. You can also place one leg in a foot-rest with 15-20 cm height.

Give breaks to long stands and give rest to your body parts in between. Walk a little bit and sit occasionally to give long stands a break. If you are a fat person, adopt best sitting postures too.

Sitting too long can give these problems too

When you wake up in the morning, you may have problems to walk. A feeling of frozen or heavy legs, pain in the lower side of feet while walking – if you sit long during  your active hours, such things are bound to happen.

When you sit, the lower portion of the thigh with direct contact to the inner portion of knee may add extra pressure to that portion blocking the free blood circulation to legs. It affects the function of leg muscles giving damages to nerves.

After writing for a while, do you have the habit to move backwards in the seat and give support to neck using your hands? It’s because muscles and nerves of necks have been affected, adding extra pressure to both. If you sit with bended neck, it adds extra pressure and pain to that portion.

Travelling/driving can also act as villain

The condition of vehicle and roads can affect the body condition too. Travelling through a bad road adds extra pressure to the back bone, joints and other body parts.

When you stand long waiting for train or bus, it can affect your back bone and joints. Cement seats without back support and sliding metal seats can also add extra pressure to back bone.

While you drive a car or two-wheeler, sit erect. Soon after you sit inside the car in driver seat, close the door and adjust your seat. Check if your legs can easily reach accelerator and breaks without adding extra pressure, and also if you get the front view comfortably.

Avoid obesity and fat tummy

4 meals plus sweet beverages at two or three breaks plus sharing sweets with friends and colleagues plus sitting at office for long hours – these factors are sufficient to get a fat tummy.

If you sit long hours while working, you are most prone to cholesterol and type-2 diabetics. When you sit long, the process to convert fat to energy virtually seizes. As your body muscles get less activity, production of insulin which controls blood sugar level also reduces.

Eat meals according to the nature of job. If your job doesn’t demand physical efforts, 1800 calories are sufficient for a day. An idli (steam cooked rice cake) has 110 calories. When you take three such idlis with a little sambar, your body gets around 450 calories.

You can kindly reject sweets and snacks given by colleagues at workplace. Make balanced diet a habit. Consume less amount of fat rich food like meat and yellow yolk of eggs. Include only any one in daily diet – an egg, 30 gm fish or meat, and try not to consume fried fish or meat.

When stomach muscles are free, it adds extra load to back bone. During gestation period stomach muscles are stretched, as a mother is carrying her baby. After delivery those muscles get relaxed. That’s why mothers often face back pain.

While standing and walking, try to contract stomach muscles to strengthen them a bit more. It reduces your tummy as well as relaxes your back bone too.

Tips to reduce belly and back pain after delivery

After delivery or other conditions, your stomach muscles may contract leading to back pain. Muscle strengthening is an instant remedy to this condition.

In normal delivery, a mother can start tone-up exercises 2 weeks after delivery. In the case of C-Section, you can start such exercises after 6 weeks. Lay flat on bed or sheet. Bend your knee and place your feet on bed/ground. Hold your breath and contract your stomach inwards. Now try to touch your back region in bed/ground. Remain so for 10 seconds. Relax a little bit and continue the exercise. You can repeat the process for 10-30 times a day.

To avoid issues of varicose vein, do some mild exercises at night before you go to sleep. Lie down in flat floor and raise your right leg 30 degrees from body level. Hold this position for 10 seconds and bring down your leg slowly. Now tilt towards the right side and raise your right leg 30 degrees from body level and hold this position for 10 more seconds. Rest for a while and you can continue the same exercise for left leg as well. Do the exercise alternatively for both legs, 10 times each.

Swimming is an excellent exercise for all body muscles. Persons with extra weight or knee problems can also do this exercise.

Before you sit

Adopt 90 degree sitting posture always, it’s best for the health of your back bone. Small relaxation of about 15 degrees is OK (frontwards or backwards), but not more than that, which can cause troubles to your backbone. When you sit erect, computer monitor should have direct contact with your eyes.

Chair with four fixed legs is far better than a revolving chair with a single fixture. When you sit in a revolving chair, to make the chair position correct, muscles on either side of back bone are at work always, adding extra pressure to those areas.

Your chair should provide good support to your back bone. You can place a cushion at the backrest in the lower side of backbone to add extra support to it.

Fix your legs on ground while you sit in a chair. Hip joint and knees should be in the same level. If you raise your feet a little bit and place in the foot rest, blood vessels of thigh region get extra strain reducing blood circulation.

Use a big writing board for writing purposes. If so you need not bend forward while writing. Sliding surface is best for writing purposes.

Sitting posture issues

Never stay fixed on seat for long hours. Take a break once in every hour. Walk a few steps, drink a little water, chat with your friends and come back to resume your work. Make use of all situations when you get an opportunity to walk. Instead of asking peon to handle your file to next person, try to do it yourself.

Rotate your head in clock-wise and anti-clockwise directions occasionally. It gives an exercise to your neck portion – a precaution for neck pain. You can also tilt your head and touch your neck, or touch your ears with shoulders after standing erect. At regular intervals stretch your hands forward, and bend your fingers and unfold them repeatedly.  

Wrong sitting postures such as – bending together the knees with feet apart adds extra pressure to hip joints. Hanging legs without fixing them to ground also gives health issues.

While working with a personal computer, mouse and keyboard should be placed in the same surface. Also you should be able to use chair handle while operating with both. Blood vessels towards hands start from neck region. So arrange working surface and knees at same level, so as to avoid pain spreading from neck to hands and frozen feeling of hands.

When we are fully engaged in our work, truth is that we fully forget our body posture. Set a reminder in your phone with one hour break. Take a short break, take simple stretching exercises and then resume your job.

After you finish your daily job at office, instead of rushing to home, spend a little time for gossips and small chats with your colleagues. You can also go for shopping in the lunch break and in the evenings.

If you can correct health issues caused due to your wrong sitting or standing postures, stretching exercises are sufficient to avoid future problems. When muscles surrounding the joints turn flexible, you become healthy. Correct body structure is maintained, and blood circulation improves. It keeps diseases at bay.

Take breathing exercises along with or after stretching exercises. Taking deep breaths while stretching and when muscles relax, breathe out. Otherwise take 20 deep breaths after stretching.

Reserve 10 minutes for daily exercises

Once you reach office every day spare first 10 minutes for stretching exercises before you start with daily activities. If so, you can improve your work efficiency 50% – studies suggest. Here are a few exercises to strengthen the muscles of neck, hands, shoulders, stomach, back bone and legs.

1. ’Shrug’ for shoulders and neck – Sit or stand erect, and raise your shoulders. Hold for 10 seconds and relax. Repeat the exercise 10 times.

2. For chest and back – Clasp your fingers and place perpendicular to chest. Twist palms and stretch in the forward direction. Place your hands as such and stretch on either side as well as in the upward direction. You can do this exercise in standing or sitting position.

3. Tricep stretch for hands – Take your left hand and move through the rear end and place on right shoulder. Place the right palm on left elbow. Elbows and shoulders should be in same level. Give stress to hands and turn right. Repeat the stretching exercise for left side as well. Hold for 5 seconds each and repeat the whole process 5 times.

4. Exercise for backbone – Torso exercise stretches trunk muscles on either side of backbone. Sit erect in a chair, and place left leg on right leg. Place right hand on left knee. Place left hand in the backrest and then turn the body towards left side maximum. Hold for 10 seconds, relax and restore. Repeat the same exercise in the opposite side, and repeat the process on either side alternatively 10 times. When you do the exercise in the right side, place your left hand on right knee and right hand on backrest of the chair.

5. Exercise to strengthen leg muscles – This stretching strengthens muscles of thighs and either side of knees. Sit on a chair and stretch legs. Fix heels on ground, lift fingers and stretch. Similarly fix fingers on ground and stretch heels. For each stretch hold for 10 seconds and come back to original position before you do the next step. Repeat 5 times. You can also do the same exercise in standing position. When you lift the fingers or heels, contract stomach muscles too.

Image source: Pixabay

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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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