An airplane seat is no friend to the lower back. Whether you’re dealing with existing back pain or trying to avoid it, airline seats aren’t designed to give you proper back support. Statistics show that after just 20 minutes of sitting, blood pools in the legs and pressure builds on the spine, creating tightness and discomfort in the lower back. Virtually all commercial flights are longer than that, which means millions of travelers are left to suffer in their cramped economy-class seats counting the minutes until touchdown. It’s not just air travel. More and more people are living lifestyles that require them to go on business trips, commute long distance or travel far to see loved ones. Some go by plane, some by train and others by car. None of these travel options are ideal for back health.
Back pain is a major issue in the U.S. In fact, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke reported that 80 percent of the population deals with some sort of lower back pain on a regular basis. This overwhelming problem is what prompted the creation of The Back Thing, a functional chair cushion designed by a neurosurgeon to provide lumbar support. Many have found relief in the simple yet smart design of The Back Thing. Peter F., who commutes for work in the Baltimore area, said: “Commuting by train to work places a strain on my lower back. I typically sit for three hours daily roundtrip and really feel it when I get home. The Back Thing has been a nice addition to the commute. I like the fact that it folds for easy placement in my briefcase, too.”
Millions of people are dealing with the same issues as Peter. Lower back pain is the second leading cause of doctor’s visits, beaten out only by the common cold. It is also accounts for the most job-related injuries and time off from work. According to The Hidden Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans report, there were 264 million lost work days in one year. That’s two work days for every full-time worker in the country. As a whole, people in the U.S. spend more than $100 billion on treatment for lower back pain, according to the The Journal of American Osteopathic Association. These are staggering figures.
Why is there so much back pain in the U.S.? Back pain can come on abruptly after lifting a heavy object or as the result of an accident, but most back pain is caused by sedentary lifestyles. In general, Americans spend much of their time sitting. They sit for work, for travel, to eat and to watch TV. They’re sitting so much it’s become detrimental to their health, leading scientists to say that sitting is the new smoking.
If you travel often or your work requires you to sit for long periods, there are a few simple and inexpensive ways to combat back pain. Develop proper posture and muscle balance with exercises directly targeted at strengthening back muscles. Practice yoga, which has been proven to ease chronic lower back pain. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. When sitting, use good lumbar support that supports your back vertically – most lumbar supports are horizontal and push the lower back to overarch. Make sure to sit at a good position and height for the task. Keep shoulders back. Switch sitting positions often and get up to stretch and walk around periodically.