Whether you are sitting regularly for your job, commenting or standing through most of your work day, you may be in the large population of people who have experienced back pain at some point in their lives and know how debilitating it can be. Back pain is commonly caused by structures either being compressed together or overstretched. One way to combat it is to make sure you are aligning your body in a way that gets all muscles, nerves, fascia, etc. into their optimal position. This allows structures that have become compressed or overstretched the chance to be unloaded, which can lead to decreased inflammation and decreased messages of “pain” being generated by the brain. Here are a few things to keep in mind when standing in line, at a concert, at your standing desk, while holding your child, etc.
Stand with weight over your entire foot
Many people stand with their weight unevenly distributed across their feet. This can lead to certain parts of the body being hit with more forces than others. I see many patients who have more weight in their heels and/or off to one side versus the other. To correct this, rock forward to put your bodyweight over the balls of your feet, then rock back to put your body weight over your heels. Now find a place midway between the two, ensuring that the weight is equal between the two feet!
Align your ribcage and your pelvis
Think about your ribcage as one block and your pelvis as another. To distribute the forces evenly across every part of the block, they would need to be aligned as best as possible, both where they are stacked on top of eachother and how they are tilted in relation to each other. For simplicity sake, think of getting your rib cage right over your pelvis (rather than standing with your pelvis stuck out in front of your ribcage) and your chest bone aligned straight up and down over the front of your pelvis (rather than being tilted up to the sky). In many cases this will feel weird. For example, if you are used to standing with your chest up all the time, aligning it properly might feel like you are slumping! See the Saliba Postural Classification System for all the #NerdyDetails in the funky ways people align their bodies that might be causing pain and impaired athletic performance.
Relax your midsection and butt, while keeping your bones in place
We are all fed the myth that to have a strong core means keeping your abs locked in place all the time. The truth is, when your core is rock solid, it is unable to be flexible enough to meet the demands placed on it (like shock absorption or having to react to perturbations like someone bumping into us). What we want is for the core to fire when we need it to, but have the stability in our body come from the bones lining up (see above), rather than muscles holding us in place. Once you have worked on aligning your ribcage, pelvis and feet, try to KEEP this alignment while you relax your low back, belly and butt. Now keep this in mind when sitting, standing, walking and running.
As always, these are meant to be general tips that might not work for everyone. Individual physical therapy is a great way to explore specific ways to help YOUR unique body.