Exercises to prevent back pain when sitting

Is it possible to avoid back pains when sitting? Absolutely yes.

Most cases of lower back pain nowadays are due to long incorrect way of sitting!

Exercises to prevent back pain when sitting - starts with learning how to sit!

In the past, most cases were an outcome of an over extended lower back arch (Lordosis), and today it is the opposite! Most cases are a result of an extension of lower back muscles due to a reverse arch in the lower back during long time sitting position!

Firstly you must pinpoint the weak vertebra that causes lower back collapse and pains. Then you will be able to exercise pain prevention sitting. You will find explanations and exercises to prevent back pain when sitting here, to assist you.

Firstly you must find the right place to lean on the chair

How do we do this? We find the body`s central axis that connects between the crown of the head and the central point between the two sit bones (the perineum). Behind this axis is the spinal column which functions as a spring and shock absorber from behind the central axis. At two points the spinal column overlaps the central axis: the lumbar arch point and the neck arch point. To sit correctly we must lean on the centre of the sit bones in a way that supports the body`s central axis.

In the next stage we will practice exercises that will greatly strengthen our central axis

These exercises will allow us correct support. 

When there is a weakness that causes the lower back to bend forward, pressure appears on the vertebrae of the lower back, together with contraction and shortening of muscles and possibly pressure on a nerve. It is generally thought that the weakness is of the abdominal muscles and that strengthening them will lead to pelvic balance and reduced pressure.
This is not necessarily so. Frequently, if someone suffering from this manifestation practises strengthening of the abdominal muscles, not only is it not certain that it will help but it may even worsen the situation. The reason is considerable shortening of an inside muscle (the iliopsoas) that connects the spinal column and the inside uppermost part of the thighs. This muscle has a major function in posture and in correct movement and is frequently a source of back problems and pains. 

If we work to strength the abdominal muscles without emphasising the lengthening of the psoas, a situation is liable to be created of further shortening of this muscle, which constitutes to some extent the back wall of the internal organs in the abdomen. When the muscle is shortened, it pushes the organs forward, or simply the entire abdomen which then spills forward instead of being contained in the pelvis.

Correct lengthening of the psoas, with the learning of the proper functionality of the muscle during movement and sitting, is the correct solution.

Such lengthening and learning can be carried out only with the assistance of aTouch and movement therapy expert or an expert in Ida Rolf`s Structural Integration 

Exercises to prevent back pain when sitting, that you can carry out alone:

1. Front sphincter strengthening exercise

Frequently this exercise can provide a solution also without touch intervention. The front sphincter is the muscle with which we can stop the urine flow. When we contract the front sphincter, additional muscles are utilised naturally, for instance the abdominal muscles and the inner thigh muscles (adductors). The entire pelvis is affected by the contraction and when it is carried out correctly - separately from the rear sphincter, it also causes a slight rotating pelvic movement, which balances it so that the point of the perineum is furthest down and not too far to the rear. In this way in fact the abdominal muscles are utilised, strengthened and maintain the pelvis more correctly without creating a psoas activation stimulus and without causing its shortening. 

When we contract the front sphincter (which is like holding ourselves in in order not to urinate) we must also give it enough time for release. The sphincters are doubly innervated - both voluntarily and involuntarily -, to prevent night-time incontinence. However, precisely because of this, during release we must await full release, namely that also the involuntary part reacts to the release order. 

The contraction continues several seconds, and there is no real need to stop breathing for this. You can contract and breathe in and you can contract and breathe out. This requires practice and the possibilities are discovered together with this. You can contract tightly to feel that you are indeed contracting, and you can contract lightly. Slight contraction is effective only after you have already built force and ability of contraction. 

Ultimately you can strengthen the muscle with medium contraction over time, breathe in and out almost normally while strengthening the contraction. You can of course also talk while contracting and do anything while strengthening the contraction of the front sphincter. 

Building the force of the sphincter is the critical stage that creates the correct support for the lower back and prevents lower back pain! 


2.Pressing your knees together while sitting

Lowering back pain by strengthening the Adductors and the front sphincter
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In this exercise we press the knees together, exercising slight pressure on one knee against the other and then let go. This pressure utilises all the muscles that we cited previously, namely the front sphincter and the abdominal muscles and the inner thigh muscles, but also the exercise works on lengthening the outer thigh muscle which constantly tries to reopen the knees that are pressed together.If you perform this exercise regularly, you will be able to rapidly relieve and prevent lower back problems and pain!                                                                                                                                                    


3.Place your hands on your eyes while sitting 
Hands on eyes - from Paula methodThis exercise is very effective if you sit in front of the computer for long periods. The exercise allows release of the eyes above all, and from there of the neck  muscles until general relaxation. Lay your elbows on the table, cover your eyes with the palms of your hands while bending your head towards the hands and placing your weight on them. It is as if your eyes are in the palms of your hands and your forehead rests on the fingers. The fingers can be crossed - this affects the depth of the relaxation of the looking and seeing effort but they do not have to be crossed. When you cross your hands you must gently send the rear side of the neck back and not sink down with it; when you do not cross your hands it is easier to cover your eyes with your fingers. Remain in this position at least 5 minutes, and at most for 7 minutes.

With this exercise we can correct our energy flow - usually we make efforts to see, rolling our eyes as if making a movement forwards outside the body in order to draw near and see. On the other hand, our hands habitually prevent movement, frequently we prevent an action and exercise control in this place. The connection between the palms of the hands and the eyes often creates the correction in the flow: from the hands out into the eyes and into the body.  

4. Tongue from side to side when sitting in front of the computer or in other situations. 

A very important exercise that prevents some neck problems and pains. The exercise is called tongue from side to side. In it we lightly push the last inside top tooth out, first the right one then the left one. The lips at that time are closed, but the inside mouth cavity expands with the gentle pushing of the tongue. Frequently and particularly if the tongue contact is in the connection area between the tooth and the palate, a reaction of good yawning is created that expresses the expansion of the inside cavity in the mouth and neck area. This simple and easy exercise can certainly be carried out while working.


5. Tongue rolls. 

This is a more advanced exercise that treats neck problems and pains in greater depth. It requires space for free movement of the head. It should be carried out preferably at first when lying on a mattress. While rolling the tongue on the inside of the lips with the tongue gently pushing the lips from inside outwards (the lips are closed all the time), allow your head and your entire body to move freely as a reaction to the tongue rolls. 

You should stop sometimes and change the direction of the roll. Be careful not to push the lips too hard (they should remain closed throughout the exercise), otherwise it will be too hard and you will have to stop the exercise. A typical reaction to the exercise will be a feeling of stress or pain in the neck that attests to the relation between the tension in the tongue and the tension in the neck. 

When the body indeed reacts freely to the tongue rolls, a movement of the entire head occurs and also of other parts of the body. This movement seeks the correct synchronization of the entire system, synchronization in movement and utilizing the muscles will allow you to continue the exercise for a long time, without tiring or pain.


6. Tongue to the root of the nose

Another tongue exercise that can be carried out while working on the computer. This exercise is very effective for keeping the neck long and preventing neck pains and accompanying problems. You simple gently touch the top palate with the tip of the tongue in the direction of the root of the nose, with the lips remaining closed. This exercise also increases the inside mouth and neck cavity.


7.Top lip to the nose 

Upper lip to the nose takes care of the neck while in housekeeping or daily activities
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Another exercise in this series, a little more complex. The late Paula Garbourg always recommended doing it during housework in order not to shorten the neck and create pressure on the vertebrae. The exercise commences by sending the top lip to the nose.The top lip must be soft and wide and what pushes it up, is the bottom lip which must be contracted and push the top lip up to the nose, pressing the top teeth. The chin for this must contract, it supports the bottom lip that supports the top lip. At the same time, the actual nose seems to come down towards the lip – it is long and wide. Do not contract the root of the nose, on the contrary, you should imagine two small balls going into your nostrils in order to expand them. Thus in this exercise there are two main opposing directions: the nose seems to go down towards the lip and want to take the entire head down with it, while the top lip goes up towards the nose and wants to raise the nose up. The result is that they meet in the centre and the neck therefore remains long and stable. Other opposing directions here: the top lip retains width and softness while the bottom lip and chin are with contraction and force. You can make a game of it, placing a pencil between the top lip and the nose; this creates a reminder and proof for when you let go. 



8.The golden rule of sitting correctly 

ישיבה נכונה למניעת כאבי גב שומרת על הקשת המותנית שמהווה תמיכה גם לצוואר
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You cannot sit correctly for a long period. If your body is already correctly organized, you will find that sitting in which you are supported from the centre of the sit bones and all the body is straight and supported, is the easiest sitting, saves energy and prevents pressure.                                    

However, if you are still not in this good and precise place, or if you are on the way to it, you should change your sitting position frequently, and be very attentive to what your body broadcasts. 
You must pay attention to a comfortable and pleasant feeling in your body and go with it. You must continue to listen, since the position that was initially comfortable becomes uncomfortable subsequently. After listening to your body, change the way in which you are supported and choose the seat suitable for you according to the feeling. Continue to listen and to change again accordingly.                                                                                              


All the exercises given in this article are taken from the Paula Garbourg approach and some also appear in her book. Naturally it is always better to receive individual instruction from a qualified instructor in the method and only afterwards to carry out the exercises independently.

Until you arrive at such lessons you can use the exercises and reduce pressure and pain. 

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