How to Practice Proper Posture for Peak Performance
The Scope of America’s Back Problem
Did you know that lower back pain affects around 10% of the national and global population? Many schoolchildren’s and students’ backpacks are too heavy, and many American adults work in professions that place great strain on the back, such as agriculture, production, and transportation. Those who do clerical work are also at significant risk of low back pain, and almost everyone slouches at some point, such as when staring at a smartphone while lounging on the couch. Healthcare professionals and members of the public should be proactive about preventing and counteracting chronic back problems.
A UNC School of Medicine study found that 80% of Americans will experience at least one episode of lower back pain at some point in their lives. Another study showed that 15-20% of Americans develop protracted back pain, 2-8% have chronic back pain, 3-4% are temporarily disabled due to back pain, and 1% of the working-age population is permanently disabled as a result of lower back pain. Lower back pain (LBP) is the second leading cause of lost work time (after the common cold), accounting for over one-third of all work-related disability. LBP is also the fifth leading cause of hospitalization. It’s estimated that lower back pain costs Americans over $100 billion per year, largely in terms of lost wages. The magnitude of this problem has grown worse over the past decades.
Tips on How to Practice Proper Posture
Fortunately, though, SAMI-Aid has your back. For better ergonomic health, we recommend:
- Sit up straight (don’t slouch). If you work a desk job, sit with both feet on the floor and your monitor at eye level, stand up often, use headsets for phones, and invest in a lumbar pillow if necessary. Your employer may also be willing to help ensure an ergonomic working environment to reduce employees’ risk of injury and improve productivity. Here are some detailed instructions on how not to slouch.
- Strengthen your core. Having a strong core is essential not only for fitness and sports, but for balance and stability in everyday activities. A relatively sedentary weekday routine is a major contributing factor to lower back pain. Conversely, staying in shape and maintaining a good exercise routine can go far towards reducing your risk of back problems.
- Lighten backpacks and carry them properly. Choose a backpack with two wide, padded shoulder straps, and wear both straps to distribute the strain evenly across your back and shoulders. Keep your backpack under 10-15% of your bodyweight or 25 pounds—whichever is lower. Try to evenly distribute the weight of contents within your backpack and avoid unnecessarily prolonged periods of carrying it.
- Consult with a medical professional to evaluate your posture and ergonomic health. SAMI-Aid is here to support you, including your back. Our telemedicine doctors and nurses provide invaluable advice and support for many ailments, including back problems, starting at $39.99 per consultation. However, if you are looking for pain medication, we recommend seeing a doctor in person and we can help with that, too. SAMI-Aid membership is free and includes free access to our Physician Price Search tool for local doctors accepting uninsured patients.