Poor posture - a common cause of low back pain. How to correct it

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The following is a summary of an excellent book "Treat Your Own Back " by Robin McKenzie. He has also written "Treat |Your Own Neck".

The first step is that you must discipline yourself to hold your back in the correct position at all times. There are some tips below to help you find the correct standing position.

During a phase of acute back pain the initial aim is to re-establish the curve of the lumbar spine and to keep it there.

Step 1

Lie down on the floor on your tummy. Ask somebody to pull gently on each leg so that your back is slightly stretched. At this point push yourself up on your elbows but keep your hips on the floor. Hold that for a few seconds, go flat and rest. I call this a lazy press up. Initially during acute back pain this may make the pain a little worse. Classically the pain is localised to one side of the back but as you continue with these exercises, it becomes more centralised before leaving completely. The more times you can do this exercise, the better (at least 20 lazy press ups three times daily) as it helps to massage the tissues of the back into their correct position. It is not easy getting off the floor and holding your back in this same position, but it can be done by climbing up the furniture.

Step 2

Once you have got the back in this position it must be kept there at all times. This is achieved by using a lumbar roll - use a small cushion which is rolled up tight to make a Swiss roll about 9 inches thick and tuck it into the small of the back whenever you sit down or drive a car. This helps to maintain the lumbar curve and keep the back in the correct position. At night time I suggest taking a roll of blanket and putting it under the mattress at the level of your waist. This means that when you lie on your back the lumbar curve is sustained by this roll and should you roll on to your side it keeps the spine straight by tucking into the waist.

It is my experience that the vast majority of low back pain can be improved by these simple techniques.

If you do not make progress, then ask for help from a physio, osteopath or chiropracter. The sooner in life your posture is corrected the better. This could save a life time of problems subsequently.


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