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How Moderate Physical Activity Can Help Prevent Back Pain

Any number of jobs can put the modern worker at risk for potential low back pain, but it is the ubiquity of the contemporary desk and computer set up in most offices these days that are making this health problem more and more common.

The equation is a simple one to work out: sit for almost the entire day first in your car on the way to work, then for 8 hours or more at your desk, next sit on the commute home, and finally sit on the couch when you get back home; it all equals lower back pain.

New research into lower back pain approached the subject from an angle of daily physical activity. For the study, the participants chosen were specifically young women from the ages of 20-40 who worked in a modern office environment. The participants were categorized according to three major divisions: those who performed low levels of physical activity, those with moderate levels of physical activity, and those with high levels of physical activity. Interestingly, it was participants who engaged in moderate levels of physical activity that showed the least amount of problems from low back pain. 

This relationship between physical activity and back pain is a direct one, but the nuances and complexities of the relationship require more in depth study. A closer look at the study shows that 240 women from 20-40 years old were used on a voluntary basis. To determine the level of disability each participant experienced from lower back pain an assessment test known as the Oswestry Disability Index was used. 

Other factors included in the study was body weight and body mass index. By looking at these measurements researchers could determine if the weight and presence of body fat on a participant had any effect on the relationship between lower back and physical activity. Results determined that losing weight and preventing further weight gain due to the consumption of dietary fat also had a positive impact on reducing lower back pain. 

The fact that the lowest scores for low back were indicated by those who engaged in moderate physical activity, as opposed to low physical activity or high physical activity, seems to support that old adage of "everything in moderation.” The idea is the too little physical activity isn’t enough to stretch and strengthen the muscles that support the lower back, while too much physical activity stresses the musculoskeletal system leading to inflammation which also causes lower back pain. 

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Franca Gimenez

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