In the lower spine (Lumbar), there is a normal arch that occurs, and your spinal discs as well as ligaments can become quite agitated during prolonged flattening of that arch, and lead to pain.
Therefore, we must work to preserve that curve as we sit, but using our own muscles to hold ourselves up can be quite challenging, especially if you work the regular 9-5 workday. This is where having a lumbar support comes in.
Setting up the lumbar support improperly can be just as bad as not having one at all, so its important to set it up properly in order to benefit from the desired effect.
Tip 1: The Right Position
Sit with the back in full lordosis (arch), then back off approx. 10% toward neutral. This is generally where most people will need to be. Sitting like this can be very fatiguing for de-conditioned back muscles, but having the lumbar support in this position will ease the amount of muscle work.
Tip 2: Support Options
There are many different potential options for lumbar supports. Seat cushions, towel rolls, and “ergonomic chairs” often won’t get the job done because they are usually the wrong shape, and do not provide the adequate pressure needed at the right level in the lumbar spine. However, when needed, they can serve as a substitute very short term.
Tip 3: Optimal Diameter
The lumbar roll should be no more than four to five inches (about 10-13 centimeters) in diameter before being compressed. It should be filled with foam rubber of moderate density so that when compressed its diameter reduces to about 1.5 inches. (about 4 centimeters).
I highly recommend the “Mckenzie Super Roll”, which a wonderfully designed lumbar support made JUST for this purpose.
When adjusting to the new support, you may experience some ache, but it should improve fairly quickly. It all depends on how stiff you are from the get-go in the lumbar region, and of course the proper ergonomic set up.
Muscle imbalance syndromes can be held in place by a complex web of interactions between various systems in the body. Corrective techniques vary widely, and many of them work quite well…BUT…unfortunately, they don’t last over the long run.
Take therapies like chiropractic, for instance. Many of my patients tell me that whenever they would see a chiropractor, they felt better right after their adjustment, but the pain and tightness would return shortly after, only leaving them to continue to need adjustments to stay out of pain. Certainly, this is not the case with all back pain sufferers that visit chiropractors, as some of them get long term relief from just a few treatments.
So, the question is: Why do some people get relief, while others don’t?
There are 3 categories that must be addressed in the total health of the individual. They include:
1. Structure: This involves muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and joints.
2. Biochemistry: This area involves all the chemical interactions within our bodies, including hormones, vitamin/mineral status, and all other sorts of biochemical interactions.
3. Mental/Emotional: This area involves the concept of how our minds and emotions affect how our physical bodies function.
The interesting thing is that any of the above 3 areas can CAUSE, CONTRIBUTE, or SUSTAIN muscle imbalance patterns. The reality is that dysfunction in one of these categories cannot exist alone, but rather directly affects the other 2 areas.
Many times when structural treatments do not last is not that they don’t work, but rather they do not address the biochemical and/or mental-emotional factors that are “holding” the muscle imbalance pattern or are causing it to return.
Its about time for us to not only conceptually understand how the body works as a whole, but instead, start developing PROTOCOLS and treatment programs that USE this information!