Updated: Jan 4, 2021
The typical lifestyle of a human has changed quite a lot over the last 100 or so year. Ultimately because our lifestyle has changed so much we now have a vast array of new issues that we have to deal with. Many of the health issues and chronic pain issues we have now simply did not exist a few hundred years ago... and by looking at our lifestyle now compared to what it was back then, we can learn a hell of a lot as to how we could do things better.
100s of years ago we didn’t have the typical jobs we have now, we were out in nature and doing what humans had evolved to do - hunting and gathering. The reality is the world as we know it and the lifestyles we now lead have evolved a lot faster than our biology has and we are suffering the consequences of this.
One particular example of this is the amount of time that we spend sitting. It’s crazy when you add it up... What your day actually looks like. Wake up, shower, sit down for breakfast, sit in the car to drop the kids off at school and then head to work, sit at work for 6 hrs, back sitting in the car on the way home, sit down and watch a few hrs of Netflix at night. - This may be an extreme example for some however it’s the reality for a lot of people.
How does this cause back pain?
First of all we need to look at what proper function of the lower back, pelvis and hips actually is. Our hip joints should have adequate mobility in all directions (flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, internal and external rotation). We should have the ability and awareness to be able to maintain neutral pelvis and lumbar spine position in all static and dynamic postures.
When we sit a lot essentially what happens is our hips are spending a lot of time in a flexed position. Flexed hips for long periods over an extended period of time = short/tight/weak hip flexors and long/weak hip extensor muscles, along with potential ligamentous change and reduction of mobility within the actual hip capsule itself.
Ultimately our hips lose their ability to get into hip extension and when this happens this results in various compensations in other areas. Our sacroiliac joints can become compromised, our lumbar spine can be chronic ally sitting in too much extension causing many potential issues (sciatica, facet joint irritation etc) and ultimately your pelvis, lumbar spine and hips will not be performing as they should be.
In terms of fixing this - the focus should be on getting more hip extension, creating good awareness and movement through your lumbar spine, pelvis and hips and strengthening any weak links in the chain. An obvious addition to this is to focus on sitting less and moving more.
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