Sarah Key’s short video explains what happens to your vertebrae and the intervertebral discs with excessive sitting – and why you may have a stiff back after …
So here we go with sitting, because
people with back pain often find sitting
almost impossible they can do everything
else but they can't sit. So, bear in mind
that the spine, to sit comfortably, should
be in balance. Now, you can see the spine
in standing on the left-hand side here
has this wonderful elongated s-bend,
a lumbar lordosis here – a hollow – a thoracic kyphosis and the cervical lordosis
with a very heavy head sitting on top. That's a beautiful elongated spring mechanism
so that when you walk along the pavement that sinks and springs. Ideally you try
and keep as close as you possibly can,
with sitting, to keeping this lovely s-bend.
Now what tends to happen with
sitting, especially if you're sitting for long
periods of time, is that you lose your s-bend and you get the c-bend. With
hours literally spent crumpled with your head
forward – especially if there's a thing
called a computer sitting out the front here.
So we go into a c-bend.
And you can see here from these little graphics – these are the intradiscal pressures inside the disc,
greatest with bending forward, lifting up a
weight, but here we have the sitting
postures. Upright sitting slumped – sitting
is very high – but I don't know whether
you can see here there's a tiny little
graphic here, there's a tiny little back
support where that person is sitting
laid-back, which gives some clue to the
getting comfortable in sitting. The
more you can relax back, in fact the more
you can keep this part of your spine
slightly arched, then the more
comfortable you are going to be. Now
that's not easy long-term.
This is what happens if you sit slumped
for long periods of time.
All this huge body
weight of your upper torso carried
forward tends to flatten your lumbar
disc. Over time it loses height and then
you start getting problems of the facet
joints as well because you don't have
enough separation here. But what happens
short term, in a diurnal
way, is that the more you sit slumped forward,
the more you squeeze fluid out of the
discs. Which is where the back block comes
in of course, where you need to be opening
back the other way here, literally. Using
the back block is what I call the anti-
sitting device, so that you can undo some
of the ill effects of sitting. Now the
important thing about sitting is to try
and use a pillow. While you're in pain
you cannot afford to be using a kneeling
chair or a saddle chair and you also must
not try and sit bolt upright without
support, such as sitting on a fit-ball.
When you're rehabilitating and trying to
get yourself out of pain you need a
pillow behind your back – and big pillow –
wedged between your
lumbar hollow here and the back of the chair. A
bed pillow is the best thing – although if it's
lost its stuffing it won't be good enough.
And it literally leaves you there so you
can sit back and relax, your belly is
off-duty. Sometimes you feel as if you're
too gutty – you just have to ignore
that – you need a pillow. Now I'll go through in
the next little video clip the best and
the worst of chairs but, even
with the best of chairs, if your
back is bad you often do need that
pillow, just get used to it. The little
lumbar supports aren't usually good enough
because they're not bulky enough. They don't
give you enough support. I describe that
as not giving enough support to the
tired spine. When the spine is tired it
slumps more and more into the c-bend and
that's why you need that very bulky
pillow. Ok, so now we'll go into what
makes the best chair.

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