2 Techniques to Reduce Back Pain and the 6 Harmful Sitting Postures

 Long periods of sitting can contribute to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular

disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases in addition to bloating the lower body and creating back pain. Expert in spinal mechanics Zheng Yunlong identified six typical improper sitting positions that are more dangerous.

According to Zheng, many people have fascia stereotypes from chronic improper sitting posture, which makes it difficult for them to stand up straight. He also provided advice on how to improve poor sitting posture and get rid of back discomfort on the "Health 1+1" program.

The 6 Most Harmful Sitting Postures

Zheng said the following six kinds of sitting postures hurt the body the most:

1. Hunching

This is the state of bending the back while looking forward. Sitting in this position for a long time can cause headaches, dizziness, dry eyes, chest tightness, stomach pain, shoulder and neck pain, and even chronic shoulder complications. The hunched posture with a raised head will squeeze the neck, and the tension on the cervical spine may be stretched further to the head and face, causing pain and other discomfort.

2. Lifting the Legs While Sitting 

This is a state of resting the feet (one or both) on a coffee table or chair in front. This posture can strain the hamstrings, making it difficult to straighten the waist and affecting the intervertebral discs in the lumbar spine.

3. Sitting on a Low Bench or the Floor 

This posture narrows the angle between the thighs and body, causing the lumbar spine to bulge. Sitting like this also makes it difficult to straighten the body and is a likely cause of hunchback.

4. Half-Lying and Half-Sitting 

If you slouch on the sofa like this, with the buttocks forward and the lower back not touching the sofa, there will be a gap between the sofa and the body. People who sit like this tend to slide backward and slouch increasingly with time. This posture will squeeze the lumbar spine backward, causing intervertebral disc problems, round shoulders, chest tightness, and cervical spondylosis, age-related wear and tear on your neck.

5. Leaning One Way While Sitting the Other 

This is when you sit on the sofa, feet on the sofa folded one way while your upper body leans either left or right. Many people get used to repeatedly leaning on the same side, which will skew the pelvis.

6. Sitting Cross-Legged 

This is when you put one leg over the other. This posture puts the knees higher than the hips, pushing the pelvis backward. If this becomes a daily habit, it may result in unilateral pelvic deviation, which is when the pelvis tilts laterally.

3 Pathological Consequences of Improper Posture

Zheng mentioned three types of diseases these six postures most likely cause.

1.Lumbar flexion syndrome: For example, half-lying and half-sitting will cause the intervertebral disc to protrude backward, or the intervertebral disc will become flat and thin due to long-term compression, also known as degenerative change. This can make a person shorter and may also develop into spondylolisthesis dislocation, misalignment, disc degeneration, and even spinal stenosis.

2. Cervical spondylosis: Nowadays, more and more young people suffer from cervical spine discomfort because they spend so much time looking down at their mobile phones, which damages the curve of the cervical spine. Half-lying and half-sitting can also cause cervical spondylosis because the body leans back, but the head is raised (like when viewing a TV screen). This posture causes the cervical and thoracic spine to flex, equivalent to a bowed head posture.

3. Anterior pelvic tilt: Sitting like this for a long time keeps the thighs and body flexed for far too long, which will cause either the pelvis or the neck to tilt forward or other bad postures.

How to Adjust Sitting Posture

How do you know if you have poor sitting posture? Zheng said you can judge by whether you can breathe smoothly.

A proper sitting posture involves sitting up straight so that the spine is aligned similarly to how it is while standing, and breathing should be just as smooth as when standing.

You can also take a solid pillow or a supportive cushion, put it on the sofa, and sit on it. If you can breathe smoothly when you relax, your posture is correct.

Zheng also suggested the following steps to ensure proper sitting posture:

Step 1: Sit on the edge of a chair, straighten your body, take a deep breath, and breathe smoothly.

Step 2: Tuck your buttocks into the innermost part of the chair.

Step 3: Straighten your body, lean against the chair, and take a deep breath. If the breathing is smooth, it indicates you have found the correct sitting posture.

2 Tips for Choosing a Sofa

Zheng recommends you pay attention to the following two points when choosing a sofa:

1. When the buttocks are resting on the sofa, the body will not lean back excessively, and the angle between the thighs and body should not exceed 110 degrees.

2. Choose a sofa with an angled footrest or pad. Traditional sofas make the thighs and calves form a 90-degree angle. If your legs lack support while seated, you may be tempted to put your feet on the coffee table or sofa or cross your legs. If you have an angled footrest or pad, the angle between the thighs and calves widens, enabling a more comfortable posture.

2 Tips to Relieve Back Pain

Zheng introduced two tips to stretch the body and target back pain caused by prolonged sitting or incorrect posture.

1. Lunge: With one side of the buttocks on the sofa’s edge, step the other leg back into a lunge position to stretch the psoas muscle between the thigh and waist. At the same time, you can hold the sofa with one hand, raise the other hand perpendicular to the ground, and gently lean your body back. Stretch for about 30 seconds, and then switch sides.

2. Right-Angle Full Body Stretch: Standing with both hands on a table, step back a bit, bend your knees slightly, push your hips back, and press your back down to stretch it. The hamstrings will tighten. Stay for 30 seconds to one minute. Do not get up directly from there; take a step forward before getting up.

4 Steps to Relax the Foot Fascia

For people who have been sitting for a long time or have lost some walking capability, Zheng recommends a four-step training routine to increase foot sensitivity.

1. Improve foot awareness: Limit your feet’s point of contact with the ground while standing. You could stand on tiptoes, the outer pinky side of the foot, the heel, the inner side of the arch, etc. Gently lower more of your feet or foot onto the ground, creating more contact. The weight of your body will massage your feet.

2. Swing your legs: You can stand on a step platform with one foot or step on a shoe to create a height difference between your legs. Swing your lower leg back and forth while keeping your body upright. Alternate swinging the opposite arm and leg. This action helps balance the tension of the fascia. Try doing this 50 to 100 times on each side every day.

3. Bounce your calf and Achilles tendon: Some older people or those who do not get much exercise find walking somewhat difficult or even lose the ability to bounce up and down. This is due to the stiffness of the tendons. This training requires lifting the heel off the ground, the body fully supported on the toes, and bouncing up and down gently to increase tendon elasticity. Each set has 20 reps. Five sets totaling 100 reps will be sufficient.

4. Achilles tendon stretches: The Achilles tendon is stiff in the heel that attaches to the soleus muscle. Stretching this tendon is very important, as it can increase the extensivity of the tendon, prevent plantar fasciitis, and make walking easier. To perform this stretch, first stand on a step platform. Lower one heel off the step platform, keeping the rest of the foot planted, then return to the starting position. Do this six times, with the heel dropping lower than the last time each time. When finished with this, repeat on the other foot.


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