Have you ever felt a sharp pain zap through your back as you sat down? Or that slow piercing lower back pain that made it almost impossible for you to even get up? You’re not alone.
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) estimates that at least 31 million Americans experience lower back pain at any given time. And Americans spend at least 86 billion dollars each year on back pain.
Researcher Beatrice Duthey described back pain in her recent study in a succinct way.
She stated that back pain is not a disease, but a constellation of symptoms which its origins remain in most cases unknown even though risk factors have been identified.
Some of these risk factors include:
- Bad posture
- Poor physical conditioning
- Osteoporosis or bone loss
A sedentary lifestyle including prolonged sitting is one of the most common back pain causes and may have dire consequences on the back without your knowledge.
The BBC reported that one survey estimates a lot of us sit for up 12 hours a day working or watching TV. On top of that, we sleep for 7 hours. This makes it a total of 19 hours in a day where we are sedentary.
Point: we sit too much. And sitting can cause a lot of pain. So if you’re looking for back pain relief, standing can do a lot of good.
Here are some reasons standing can provide back pain relief:
1. Reduces the chances of weight gain
We mentioned earlier in the introduction that obesity was a sure way to develop back pains. Part of a natural solution to fighting weight gain or obesity is more physical activity; standing helps a lot in that fight.
Obesity can occur as a result of living a sedentary lifestyle. Standing helps reduce that occurrence as it burns a lot of calories while doing so.
So how many calories do you burn when you stand vs when you sit? There are no simple answers.
However, the National Institutes of Health estimates if you’re an average weight of 170 lb, here’s you are likely to burn:
- 134 calories sitting
- 206 calories standing
- 296 calories walking at a moderate pace
- 341 calories walking briskly
Here’s an overview of what an average 5’5” height female burns 8 hours of sitting vs 4 hours sitting 4 hours standing on and off:
In the same way for the average male with a height of 5′ 10″, here’s how many calories they burn sitting down vs 4 hours sitting 4 hours standing on and off:
We know the extent to which calories contribute to weight gain and the relationship it has with back pain. Take a stand!
2. Helps to tone your muscles
Did you know that in certain circumstances, we don’t do away with all body fats, instead, some become muscles? Yes, muscles.
There are a lot of fats in different parts of our body including our backs (posterior chain). And standing is as a result of the different muscles in the back working together.
By standing more, there is the chance of getting the fats there turn to healthy muscles.
And this, in turn, helps to tone them and keep them in shape, leaving them very healthy. Stronger back muscles ensure quicker back pain relief.
3. Reduces chances of Lumbar Spine Osteoarthritis
Lumbar arthritis (Lumbar Spine Osteoarthritis) is the experiencing of pain at the lower back. It could be from movement or prolonged inactivity. It may be worse after standing or sitting upright for prolonged periods.
Bending sideways or backward can also cause pain.
Again, Lumbar spine osteoarthritis affects the back just as lumbar arthritis does and does almost the same harm to the back (spine).
The pain starts from the center of the low back and may expand to the pelvic area or the sides of the buttocks. Pain can also go into the thighs but rarely spreads to the knees.
The symptoms are usually slow to develop and not noticeable at first.
However, any rapid movement, twisting, and backward motion in the low back may cause injury to the lumbar area and symptoms for people with this condition.
Standing helps improve your posture and with weight loss which leads to back pain relief.
4. Fights against Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones lose so much mass that they become brittle and prone to break with slight trauma. The condition, which can occur with aging, inactivity or a low-calcium diet.
Physical activity helps to maintain bone mass and density while preserving the quality of life.
Conversely, the evidence is mounting that people who sit for excessive amounts of time (such as at their desks) have a higher risk of osteoporosis.
Standing and walking puts less strain on the spine than sitting so try to stand and walk as much as possible rather than sitting too much.
5. Reduces pains in certain cancers
Spinal tumors, lung cancer, kidney cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, prostate cancer, etc are all cancers that have their symptoms extending to the back.
This is not to say that all back pains mean you have some type of cancer. In most cases during treatments, gentle movements such as walking and standing can help with back pain relief.
6. Battles back pain caused by excessive smoking
One study shows the relationship between smoking and the occurrence of back pain. The researchers found that smokers have a higher tendency of experiencing back pains.
Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine, which can keep your body from delivering enough nutrients to the disks in your back leading to discomfort in the back.
7. Helps to keep your postural muscles active
Good posture is standing, walking or sitting in such a way that it does not lead to any pains.
Bad posture can cause these muscles to remain inactive and prolonged inactivity might lead to irreversible consequences.
Standing well is a good way to increase your postural muscular activity and this is how to do it well:
- Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
- Keep your knees slightly bent.
- Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body.
- Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled backward.
- Tuck your stomach in.
- Keep your head level-your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders. Do not push your head forward, backward, or to the side.
- Shift your weight from your toes to your heels, or one foot to the other, if you have to stand for a long time.
8. Helps to keep your core in shape
Many doubt that standing alone is a form of exercise; in fact, it is not just exercising alone, it is the basis for most exercises.
There are countless forms of workouts and exercises that require standing as the first action before any other movements.
This is so because standing alone helps to build up your core muscles especially at your back and helps with back pain relief.
Your core muscles — the muscles in your back, hips, abdomen, and pelvic floor — work together to stabilize your spine and provide a foundation for your body’s movement.
Exercise more while you stand more and make your way to a back pain-free life.
9. Helps with deep breathing
Our lungs are made of soft tissues. The more space you open up for them in your chest by standing tall and pulling your shoulders back, the more they’ll be able to expand and allow you to breathe deeply.
10. Reduces your chances of mortality
In the British Medical Journal (BMJ), research conducted revealed that spending large amounts of time sitting or lounging around during the day is linked to around 50,000 deaths per year in the UK.
Alarming, isn’t it? Sitting for long hours causes more harm than good and even to the extent of death. Physical activity such as standing, especially, reverses this effect.