Sitting Through a Chicago Day
In Chicago, chiropractor visits are one way people can learn to sit better. People do a lot of sitting—in traffic on the Edens, on the el as it rumbles underground, at the office in front of a computer, on the stoop as the day wanes, at a starlit concert in Grant Park, at a ballgame in Wrigley Field, at a bar in Logan Square—and some say all that sitting can be harmful to our spines.
While the shoulder or neck may throb with pain, a chiropractor looks at the body as a whole entity, so that pain might actually originate elsewhere. When a chiropractor discovers how much time a client spends sitting, he or she will likely focus attention on the lumbar region.
The Lumbar Region: The Base of the Back
Lumbar region refers to the five vertebrae between the pelvis and rib cage. It primarily supports the torso, acting as both a body hinge and support beam.The lumbar takes its name from the Latin word lumbus, meaning lion—an appropriate comparison given the lumbar's design for power and flexibility. It twists when we turn to look behind us, bends when we stop to pick something up, and lifts when we stand back up again. The region also bears much of the upper body’s weight—when standing and sitting.
Where that pain comes from
The two lowest and largest vertebrae are the most vulnerable to back pain, as the weight of the torso can wear out the cushiony discs between them that act as shock absorbers. The bottommost lumbar vertebra has a precarious connection to the tailbone at the lumbosacral joint, an area that must be able to bend and twist in order to facilitate the swiveling of the hips and pelvis while running or taking your coat off without using your hands.
Because the region doesn't help protect the spinal cord, lumbar issues are seldom associated with any actual damage to the spinal cord. But they can stem from the irritation of this intersecting bundle of nerves. According to HealthSource Chiropractic, most herniated discs, which put pressure on the spinal cord and can cause pinched nerves, occur in the lumbar region because it carries so much of the body’s weight.
What you can do about it
Naturally, supporting the lumbar can help alleviate some of this enormous, constant stress, leading to less pain and a lower risk of injury.
Visits to the chiropractor can help. Adjustments will align the lumbar vertebrae—and the others—so the weight is more evenly distributed. Massages release the lower back muscles, which can press the vertebrae together. Dynamic chiropractic care can also include supplements and strengthening exercises.
Your chiropractor might also recommend supportive accessories. In ergonomics, lumbar support has become a veritable industry all its own. Pillows help reinforce the lower back when sleeping, and curved back supports help position the area properly when sitting.