I heard a piece on NPR Saturday that I found shocking. There was a very rural county in the South, in which 25% of the residents were on disability. Most of which were due to low back pain. Now, many of us will think just what I thought. Just stand up a little at work. The problem is that these people were standing. A lot. Like all day for their jobs. To the point where, when one woman was asked, “Why don’t you just do something that doesn’t require standing?” The woman couldn’t even think of a job in her area in which she would not have to stand, and the first time she did encounter this was at the social security building where the woman collecting her information for disability was sitting behind a desk.
I tell you the anecdote above because a lot of people think that sitting is the enemy (I am one of them), but I wanted to point out that there is no silver bullet for low back pain. Most of the people in the county mentioned above are severely overweight or obese and get little physical activity besides standing for work. There are plenty of recent articles like this one that reference studies saying that sitting for greater than 4 hours a day (I dont think it’s just “watching tv” as this one particular article states) leads to increased chance of cardiovascular disease. But what about everything in moderation? People will say that our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t sit at computers and watch TV. But guess what. I bet when they were done running from a saber-tooth tiger they didn’t give a crap as to whether or not they sat on a rock for 2 hours versus standing to recover.
Don’t get me wrong. I work in a job in which I maybe sit an hour a day, am constantly running across a clinic and doing exercises with patients, but I understand that it’s not as easy for people who are chained to a desk all day to get the same level of activity, nor is it probably realistic to assume they can. But changing your postures/positions/locations frequently can definitely help increase your activity level and decrease your back pain. I began writing this post so I can show off some patients/ex-patients who have taken it upon themselves to do something for their health. Here they are.