In fact, back discomfort is the main reason for disability in the world. Many people suffer from some form of back pain at some point in their lives. It usually begins in adolescence and increases in frequency for adulthood.

For the majority of those who suffer from back pain, it could be chronic, debilitating and stressful. It may affect someone’s ability to perform the daily activities of living or physical activity as well as work. For instance, sitting or standing, bending, and lifting can often cause back discomfort.

There is a widespread belief the idea that “good” position is crucial to safeguard the spine from injury, in addition to preventing and manage back discomfort. A good posture is typically described to mean sitting “upright” or standing “tall and straight” and lifting using a an squat method and “straight back”.

In contrast, “slump” sitting, “slouch” standing, and lifting using the “round back” or stooped postures are usually averted. This is a view that is widely accepted by both those suffering from and not suffering from back discomfort and also by clinicians in primary care and occupational health environments.

Surprisingly, there’s an absence of evidence for an established relationship to “good” position and back discomfort. What we think of as “good” posture stem from a mix of social desire and unsubstantiated assumptions.

Systematic reviews (studies that examine a variety of studies in a particular subject) have revealed that ergonomic measures for workers, as well as advice to manual workers on the ideal posture for lifting and bending, do not reduce the incidence of back discomfort.

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Standing and sitting posture

Our team has conducted a number of studies to study the connection to spine positions in relation to back pain. We looked into the possibility that “slump” sitting, or “non-neutral” standing positions (overarching or slumping the back for instance) among an extensive sample of teenagers, were associated to, or predicted to cause future back pain. We found no evidence to support this idea.

These results are consistent with systematic reviews that have revealed no statistically significant variations in standing or sitting posture of adults suffering from and without back pain.

There are a variety of spine positions but no one position can protect a person from back discomfort. Individuals who have both upright and slumped postures may be afflicted with back discomfort.

We all are surrounded by posters of this type in our workplaces. But these guidelines do not have any evidence-based basis. Shutterstock

Position for lifting

Internationally accepted occupational health practices concerning “good” as well as safe back postures for lifting do not have evidence. Our systematic review revealed no evidence that lifting in a round back posture is related to or predictors to back pain.

A recent study in the lab found that people who did not suffer from back discomfort, who had been working in manual jobs for longer than five years are most likely to be lifting when they had the more upright, round-back posture.

For comparison the manual workers suffering from back discomfort were more likely to use more of a squat raise with a more straight back.

In other words, those suffering from back discomfort tend to adhere to “good” posture guidelines however, those who don’t lift in a “good” method don’t experience more back discomfort.

In a study of a limited size, when people suffering from disabling back discomfort improved they became less cautious and generally disengaged from “good” posture recommendations.

If posture is not the issue, what else?

There is no proof for the existence of a single “good way of sitting” to reduce or prevent back discomfort. The spines of people come in different sizes and shapes and postures are highly dependent on each individual. Moving is essential to back well-being, and the ability to change and adopt various postures that feel comfortable will likely be more useful than adhering rigidly to a particular “good” posture.

Although back discomfort can become very intense and a source of distress, for the majority of people (90 percent) back pain is not caused by a specific tissue injury or disease. Back pain could be similar to an injury that is caused by unnatural unexpected, heavy, or unaccustomed weights on our back However, it could be accompanied by a severe headache, even if there isn’t an injury.

There is at present no evidence to support one ‘good posture’ to protect against injury or pain. Shutterstock

In addition, individuals are more susceptible to back discomfort when their health is in decline for example, those who are:

The likelihood of back pain to persist if the person:

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What can people do to ease back discomfort?

In a smaller group (1-5 percent), back pain can be caused by pathology such as malignancy, fractures and infection. It can also be caused by nerve compression (the latter can be associated with leg pain and decrease in muscle strength and feeling). If you experience back pain, it is recommended to consult a doctor.

Most people (90 90%), back pain is caused by sensitisation of back tissues, yet there is no obvious damage to tissues.

In this scenario it is important to remember that focusing too much on keeping “good” posture could be distracting from other aspects which are essential to spine health.

They include:

  • Relaxing and moving your back

  • participating in regular physical exercise of your choice

  • building confidence and staying in shape and healthy for everyday work

  • maintaining healthy sleeping habits and maintaining a healthy weight

  • looking after your general mental and physical health.

Sometimes, it is necessary to provide support and guidance from a skilled practitioner.

When you’re either standing or sitting, try to find the most comfortable and relaxed positions and then change the positions. If you’re lifting it, current research suggests that it is safe to lift naturally , even with an arc back. Make sure you’re healthy and fit enough for the job, and take ensure your health is in good order.