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Consultancy Corner: Keeping your spine straight will help reduce pain

DTNext 2020-01-14 10:05:27

Present day lifestyle has led to a tremendous increase in the time spent in sitting position by millions of people during work hours, during travelling time and at home.

Dr Phani Kiran S, Senior Consultant Spine Surgeon Chennai: Sitting for a long time every day is now known to be injurious to health, with increased risk of developing diabetes, heart diseases, depression and cancer, with an increase in mortality.
An average person with a desk job spends at least 8 - 10 hours in sitting position in a day. Back or neck pain is one of the most common symptoms experienced by those who spend lot of hours in sitting every day. Prolonged sitting affects the muscles, ligaments, discs and joints of the spine.Inactivity tends to weaken the spinal, abdominal and gluteal muscles reducing the core strength. The hip flexors and hamstring muscles become shortened and lead to stiffness and thereby increase the strain on the lower back.
Bad posture while sitting such as slouching forwards or hunching, sliding to the edge of the chair and leaning back too much, neck bent to look down or too high while looking at the computer screen - all of these lead to chronic repetitive overstrain on the trunk muscles and structures in the spine that can cause significant back, neck or shoulder pain.
Prolonged use of mobile phones is usually associated with forward flexion of the neck and leads to overstrain of spinal and shoulder muscles. This is one of the leading causes of upper back, neck and shoulder pain now-a-days. (Text-neck)
The lumbar discs are subjected to high pressures while sitting, especially in bad posture. This may lead to accelerated degeneration of the discs leading to increased risk of disc prolapse and related problems.Weight gain is an eventual outcome of sedentary lifestyle and the added kilos contribute to overstrain on the spine and increase the risk of developing chronic back pain. So, if a computer professional spending many hours in sitting posture and is suffering from chronic back or neck pain, then the following measures will surely help you to get better or prevent spinal pain, such as,
Good posture:  Maintain good spinal posture. Having an adequate back support and maintaining head and neck in alignment with the back while sitting at work are important points to remember and practice. Choose ergonomic chairs with adequate back support, thigh support, adjustable height and arm rests. It is important to get out of chair and walk or stretch your back muscles every half an hour. Learn and practice the right way of bending and lifting weights without hurting your back.Be aware of your posture and keep correcting yourself until it becomes a habit.
Exercise: Regular exercises to strengthen the spinal muscles, abdominal muscles and improving the core muscle strength is an extremely important factor for preventing frequent spinal pain. Those with long duration sitting jobs, women after child birth, old women and men are likely to have weaker core strength that leads to more stresses on the structures in the spine and the back muscles, resulting in spinal pain. Exercise regularly to improve the core strength and strengthen the muscles of the back as well as the neck and shoulders.
Sleep: The spinal muscles are continuously working the entire day when we are in an upright posture. They need adequate duration of rest to recover overnight to be ready for the next day. The discs in the spine lose some water during the day when they are loaded. It is when we sleep and rest that the discs recover the lost water pressure in them. 
Diet and sunlight:  Adequate water intake is essential to prevent dehydration.  The function of the discs in the spine depends on its ability to retain enough water in its matrix. Loss of this ability is the first step towards disc degeneration and related problems. A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is essential for muscle and bone strength. Vitamin D deficiency is very common nowadays.