According to the National Institute of Health (2013), Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low back pain, the most common cause of job-related disability and is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States after headaches. Everyone has either experienced some type of back pain or knows someone who has and unfortunately, most cases of non-traumatic back cases were preventable and all we had to was move.
For me, it comes down to posture and body mechanics. I always tell my patients in Physical Therapy that the best posture is one that always keeps changing. I advise my patients to not sit for more than 18 minutes at a stretch and to stand up and walk around for 5-10 minutes before sitting back down. This is based on research by Nachemson (1976) who measured the pressure on the disc in the low back and it showed a 40% increase in disk pressure when you go from a standing to sitting position. Based on the research, it takes about 20 minutes for that load to change and it is around the 20 to 25 minute mark when most people start to feel the pain or discomfort in the low back.
In physical therapy, I educate my patients that sometimes there may not be a complete cure for chronic back and neck pain but it is about recognizing the risk factors and then making a conscious and permanent lifestyle change. Our goal is to get you back to an active lifestyle with minimal to no pain by educating you about posture and body mechanics along with an individualized stretching and strengthening program in physical therapy.
Nachemson, A.L. The lumbar spine: An orthopedic challenge. Spine1976; 1(1): 59-68