Low back pain, the positions that promote back pain

We have proof. Modern life, office jobs and the bad postures we maintain for hours and hours in the end are perhaps the main culprits of pain in the lower back, those that characterize the classic lumbago or low back pain. And those who live in the city and lead a life that requires to stay bent forward for a long time does nothing but lay the foundations to meet these problems.

The pains, according to a research conducted by anthropologists of the University of New York, would be the result of the most recent civilization. In fact, the study shows that, despite a lumbar curvature similar to that of Neanderthals, today we are more exposed to low back pain precisely because of the positions we assume and repeat for months and years.

Differences and similarities

Low back pain is the most common form of back pain and can affect about eight out of ten people over a lifetime. The pain occurs in the lower back and in most cases is linked to an excessive tension of the muscles that run along the spine, linked to bad positions or intense efforts. In some cases, especially in young adults, a chronic low back pain it can suggest the presence of a herniated disc while in the elderly it can also indicate a severe form of arthrosis or osteoporosis.

But how was it born? And why are we at risk? The investigation, which appeared on the pages of PNAS Nexus, starts from a comparison that only anthropologists could make. To evaluate the impact of posture on the curvature of the spine, American experts have made a sort of comparison that is lost in the mists of time to get to today. They have in fact examined the vertebral columns of Neanderthals, specifically studying the curvature of the lower back with that of people closest to us, who lived in the pre-industrial age and with that of people of our time.

The starting point of the investigation is simple and starts from the assumption that, in terms of anatomical curvatures of the spine, there are no great differences between our ancestors and us. In fact, it would be with the beginning of the 1800s that the vertebrae of the final part of the column (in particular the lumbar muscles above the sacral muscles) gradually came to change their curvature, with a surge in this sense in recent times.

The big difference on the physiological curve of the back, which practically does not seem to be evident in the people of the 1700s compared to Neandrethal man, has then gradually become a constant with worsening of the situation. today this translates into the presence in many people of low back pain with pain localized to the lower back itself. In particular, according to the study, it seems that in this “time travel” of back pain boring and in any case stable work positions, which would facilitate the onset of pain, have a great impact.

Beware of stress

When the back remains in the same position for a long time, especially sitting, without the muscles that run along the spine relaxing properly, the spasm that is created is capable of block the lower back of the spine, giving rise to low back pain.

Something similar, even if the area affected by the pain is at the height of the cervical spine, causes the spasm of the muscles of one side of the spine with rigidity and inability to move the head adequately. Put simply, a stiff neck. In some way, the risk of back pain is inherent in human nature and is a natural outcome of evolution, since man, by assuming the upright position, has put “pressure” on the spine.

But beware: in addition to bad positionsto the sudden movements and other elements that put your back at risk also affect “chronic” stress, or rather protracted over time. The tension induces an alteration in the relationship between muscles and tendons near the vertebrae and, leading to a reduction in the levels of cortisol (a hormone) in the blood, causes a lower resistance to pain. “

To defend oneself, prevention is above all important. In other words, the spine and the surrounding muscles should not be subjected to intense strain. For example, you shouldn’t bend your back when lifting something, but rather “load” your knees. And don’t forget that usually for the classic witch’s stroke rest and drugs are enough to recover in a few days.

If the pain lasts longer, it is time to talk to the doctor, because it could also arise from mechanical alterations, such as a herniated disc, or from pathologies of the vertebrae linked to osteoporosis or to real localized rheumatic diseases. to the spine and joints that connect the vertebrae.

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