By Riva Preil
The holiday seasons are wonderful times spent with family, friends, and prayers. It also provides physical therapists a perfect opportunity to review some basic postural advice in order to prevent back pain during the prolonged hours of sitting and standing in the same position.
While sitting, avoid slouching or slumped positions as well as overarching (extending) your back. If possible, try to sit with lumbar support (for example, a rolled up towel or small pillow resting behind the small of your back- refer to picture). In addition, the best position for your legs is hips and knees at 90 degree angles (“L” shaped) and with your feet resting comfortably upon the floor.
During prolonged standing, try to maintain equal weight over both feet. Furthermore, if you have “flat feet” and are lacking adequate arch support in the soles of your feet, it would be wise to purchase over the counter arch support inserts to promote improved foot and lower extremity alignment. Prolonged standing will feel much more tolerable with proper arch support. (Ladies, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but high heeled shoes do not constitute proper arch support- please avoid prolonged usage of these despite their aesthetic beauty.)
In addition, try to maintain neutral spine and pelvic alignment by connecting the following dots: back edge of ears over shoulder tips over greater trochanters (outer hip bone) over middle of knees over midfoot (refer to picture). If you are having trouble finding neutral spine, try the following trick: stand tall, roll your hips forwards and backwards throughout the entire range of motion available to you. Then, try to find the midway point between both extremes- this should feel comfortable and pain free. It might feel “awkward” at first if it is not your natural standing posture, but it is a new habit worth creating which will feel more comfortable with time. Finally, please see the attached stretches below to help your back feel great: Hold each position for 20 seconds, repeat 4x each. Good luck with your posture and enjoy the holidays in the best of health!