A common reason for experiencing back pain is related to bad posture while sitting. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, four out of five adults experience back pain. Sitting 40 hours or more every week in a common office chair can be a significant cause for back pain, back stress, and strain on the spinal discs, especially if you are in a slouched or hunched position.
So, sitting down in an incorrect manner can cause serious health problems? The answer is: Yes, including bad posture and back health. You can do one thing to improve your health: Sit correctly. To enhance your sitting posture, you can start by replacing your common office chair with a stability or exercise ball.
The Biomechanics of Sitting
First of all, we need to understand what happens when we sit down. As any other movement, sitting requires the activation and relaxation of certain muscles, and it provokes stress in different bones. The parts of the body being affected by posture are: the lumbar region, pelvis, and hamstrings.
When we sit, the lumbar region curves toward the stomach producing a natural slouching. The problem is when we lean too much forward, putting excessive strain on lumbar discs and no support to the lumbar spine. On the other hand, a backward tilt can lead to the flattening of the lumbar spine which can lead to a spinal disorder. The strength of hamstrings and their extensibility, also have an impact on back posture.
What’s the Best Sitting Position for Good Posture?
So how do we get to the correct sitting posture? Follow these few steps:
Start by sitting at the end of your chair, then roll your shoulders and neck forward into a slouching position. Next, pull up your head and shoulders into a straight position. Push your lower back forward to enhance the correct curving of the spine. Release the sitting position slightly and push your back against the chair. Done! You are now in a good sitting position. This might feel uncomfortable at first, but you will gradually adapt to it.
Sitting on a stability or exercise ball enhances this posture and at the same time decreases back discomfort.
The Benefits of Using a Stability Ball
Using a stability ball, or exercise ball to sit in the office generates multiple health and fitness benefits.
- Relieve Back Pain
The most common causes of low back pain include poor posture, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity. One of the most effective ways to decrease lower back pain is to strengthen the muscles around your spine. Sitting on a stability ball will allow you to stretch and strengthen your back muscles, helping relieve back pain from sitting down in a common chair. Daily spinal rotations while sitting down in also helps to strengthen the pelvis, paraspinal, and core muscles
- Better Posture
When sitting on an exercise ball, you no longer have a chair back to lean against or armrests to rest on, this automatically forces you to sit up in a straighter position correcting your posture. This minimizes the health damages and injuries that are caused in the long run by sitting in an incorrect posture.
You have to keep in mind, to ensure a proper posture in the stability ball you must stay balanced and upright, activating the muscles in your abdomen, pelvis, and back.
- Core Strength
A study published in Applied Ergonomics proves that sitting on a stability ball results in about 33% more core activation and about 66% more lumbar muscle engagement than sitting on a normal chair.
What is the story behind? The truth is that, when you sit down on a stability ball or yoga ball, you have to keep your balance by using your abdominal muscles to stay upright and avoid falling off. This constant engagement of your abdominal muscles causes an increase in core strength. Having a strong core reduces risk of back injuries.
- Increase Calorie Burn
Believe it or not, sitting on an exercise ball helps you burn a few extra calories! According to a study conducted by the University of New Hampshire, sitting on a yoga ball or exercise ball will increase your daily calorie burn compared to sitting on a regular office chair. Using a stability ball boosts about 6% of the calories burnt every hour. The number of total calories is also affected by your body weight.
- Improvement of Stability and Balance
Stability balls are effective to build muscles and endurance, strengthen your core, and essentially develop flexibility and balance. Stability and balance not only are important when exercising, but for any physical activity that requires movement.
- Promotes Movement
Don’t be surprised if while sitting in an exercise ball chair you start to bounce a little. After a long period of sitting, you can spin from side to side, bounce, lean back and front as you like. These types of movements also promote stretching and help release stress.
If you spend the majority of your time sitting, you should consider replacing your office chair with a sitting ball due to the several benefits it represents. Active sitting plays a crucial role in leading a healthy lifestyle, not only it relieves back pain but also improves core strength, stability, movement, and essentially your sitting posture.