We found this article recently on one of our favorite haunts, the New York Times. We’ll post it in installments over the next few days, but we think it’s interesting how sitting up straight and focusing on good posture can really affect your back pain levels. Of course a good chiropractic adjustment and/or a massage doesn’t hurt either 🙂
Sit Up Straight. Your Back Thanks You.
By LESLEY ALDERMAN
Published: June 24, 2011
EVERYONE wants to avoid back trouble, but surprisingly few of us manage to escape it. Up to 80 percent of Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives, and each year 15 percent of all adults are treated for such problems as herniated discs, spinal stenosis or lumbar pain.
Cheryl Senter for The New York Times
Mary Ann Wilmarth, chief of physical therapy at Harvard University Health Services, has 13-year-old Cassidy do yoga exercises to improve her posture.
But back pain is notoriously difficult, and expensive, to remedy.
“The treatments are varied, and we don’t have great science showing what works best for particular patients,” said Brook I. Martin, an instructor of orthopedic surgery at Dartmouth Medical School. “There are questions about the safety and efficacy of a surprising number of therapies, including some types of surgery.”
Those with back pain inevitably end up with higher overall medical costs than those without, studies suggest. Dr. Martin has found that patients with back pain spend about $7,000 annually on health care, while people without back pain spend just $4,000 a year. (Insurers will pay the majority of these costs, but patients often bear some of these expenses in the form of insurance co-payments and deductibles.) These estimates don’t include costs for lost work days or diminished productivity.
Some back problems, of course, can’t be avoided. Over time, spinal vertebrae naturally degenerate and spinal facets become inflamed, causing stress and discomfort.
“The majority of back pain is the result of muscle and ligament strain or weakness, and can often be prevented by developing core strength and proper posture,” said Dr. Daniel Mazanec, associate director of the Center for Spine Health at the Cleveland Clinic.
Maintaining good posture not only helps you look better (there’s a reason inept people are called slouches), it improves muscle tone, makes breathing easier and is one of the best ways to stave off back and neck pain, not to mention the dreaded dowager’s hump of old age.
“Posture is the key,” said Mary Ann Wilmarth, chief of physical therapy at Harvard University Health Services. “If your spine is not balanced, you will inevitably have problems in your back, your neck, your shoulders and even your joints.”
Sitting a little straighter now? Good. Here’s some advice that will help you make it a daily habit and stave off expensive back problems to boot.