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Bad posture: The cause of back pain

Bad posture: The cause of back pain

Most back pain is caused by bad posture whilst sitting. ‘Even though bad posture may not cause any discomfort, continual poor posture will in the long term cause back pain.’ (ref. Back Care by Health Education Bureau) “Good posture is the most important way of preventing back pain” (ref. Back Care by Health Education Bureau) When sitting with bad posture the spine adopts a forward “C” Shape.

C = Bad Posture

The figure on the left is bending forward in a “C” position, and this is the position most of the worlds population adopt when seated at a desk. Consider your own working position. You’ll find it’s precisely the one on the left.
Sitting in the “C” position puts tremendous pressure on the spine. This is due to a basic engineering principal which states that bending something stiff creates stress in the object being bent. The more the object is bent out of position the greater the stress.

Consider this analogy:

Hold the bottom of a wooden ruler in your right hand. Grasp the top with your left hand and bend the ruler. This causes stress in the ruler. The stress is released when you remove your left hand, resulting in the ruler springing back to its original position.
Now imagine your spine bending “ruler-like” over a desk. A similar but greater stress is progressively built up in your spine. The greatest stress is down in the lumbar spine where most back pain occurs.

Spinal Pressure

Swedish study, showing that the greatest pressure on the spine occurs when sitting in a bad position Pressure exerted on the discs of the spine changes dramatically from one body position to another. The diagram below, the result of a Swedish study, shows these changes.
The spinal lumber disc pressure is least while lying on your back (position 1), and greatest sitting forward (position 8). Does this look familiar?
Spinal System-S reduces the pressure in the lumbar spine from position 8 (250 kg/ to position 6 (125 kg/ This is the minimum pressure possible in the seated position for the person used in the study.

Perfect Posture

Perfect posture Perfect Posture is that position of the seated spine when the pressure on the intervertebral discs is least. Every spine has its own unique shape. When this shape is preserved the posture is perfect. However, the human spine was not designed to be seated, and perfect posture is nearly impossible to attain for long periods. It must be supported. In engineering terms the spine is a vertical flexible column that becomes flawed when seated. It needs correct support, and this is precisely what Spinal System-S provides.

Problem Solving

When a problem is to be solved the first thing to do is determine the causes. Apply the most obvious cause and see if that works. If it doesn’t try the next one, and so on.
This principle, probably never taught in school, is a reflex action with most people. Until they experience back pain. Then the principle is ignored. All sorts of remedies are applied with no thought given to the primary one. Back pain should be tackled by first making sure the sitting posture is perfect. If after some time the pain persists, it means the cause is not posture related. Then by all means experiment further.

Good Posture

Cartoon of a person sitting with their spine in the proper position To get relief, or to prevent damaging your spine, you must take immediate steps to reduce your spinal pressure by sitting correctly with your spine in its natural curved “S” position. This is systematically achieved by: Footrest
Use a footrest, or some old telephone directories about 4 inches high. This raises the height of your knees and effectively changes your centre of gravity backwards helping to improve your posture.

Sit close to Desk

Sit as close to the desk as possible. This will counteract your old habit of bending forward over the desk.


When working for long periods it is essential that your back be supported from the lumber region to at least the shoulder blades. The chair should be designed to support the whole spine right up to your neck. Naturally when you look down at your work you will lose contact slightly with the neck support. Ideally you should have a small lectern on the desk top. This will allow you to work with total spinal support.

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