By Williamson, Francis
Nutrition Health Review , No. 95
Back pain supports a tremendous industry. Doctors, healers, acupuncturists, manipulators, and drug dispensers compose an army of caterers destined to grow in size as incidents of back disorders increase.
The young suffer as much as the aged. Males suffer only in slightly larger numbers than females. The sedentary office clerk is just as vulnerable as the piano mover.
"It's not the price we pay for being human and upright," an anthropologist recently noted. "There are many primitive peoples who have never suffered back pains, and we have substantial numbers of 'civilized' men and women who seem to be impervious to back disorders. The answers are to be found in our way of life."
A mere survey of the conditions under which we live and work provides credence to the accusation that disability and discomfort of the back can be attributed to the type of chairs we sit upon, the table and desk heights that we use, and the slouching and degenerating postures that our stressful lives create.
The rise of the upholsterer in the mid-19th century may have been the precursor to many of our spinal disturbances. Our colonial ancestors sat on straight hard chairs and benches. The luxury of slouching was not known then.
The advent of the automobile, and passengers' entrapment between poorly designed seats and an unscientifically postured steering wheel, have contributed immeasurably to back strain.
People who spend much of their time driving a car are three times more vulnerable to experiencing a herniated disc, a recent Yale University study revealed.
Much back strain is the result of not understanding the exquisite engineering and mechanics of the spinal cord and the structures surrounding it. Our ancestors, who knew even less about physiology than we do, probably encountered minimal disablement because their lives were more active, their occupations of a nature that employed back muscles and ligaments more frequently.
However, medical literature of the past does mention the ever-present complaint of the farmer, blacksmith, and housewife who suffered the consequences of twisting, turning, and lifting weight improperly.
Knowledge of how the skeletal structure of the body works and thrives can reduce much distress. Knowing how to sit, bend, lift, and get out of bed may relieve many people of this unnecessary hazard.
Understanding the intricate structure of the spine and its functions should be a paramount requirement in both childhood education and adult information. Hundreds of books are written concerning diet, medications, and sexual dysfunction, but only a handful of truly informative volumes have been published that explain the magnificence of the spinal column and its unique vulnerability.
Jogging, Jumping, and Dancing
The youth of our society are actually being conditioned for aching backs by the proliferation of dance crazes that make severe demands upon the body structure. The more a body is twisted out of its natural plane, the more it is thrust out of alignment, the higher is the probability that spinal impairment will occur.
A dramatic example of such tortuous gyration can be observed in "breakdancing," a form of body mayhem that has few equals in the entire history of adolescent self-abuse.
Adults who believe that running, jogging, and trampoline jumping are the way to better health and a sound physique may be committing more damage than no exercise at all. Although there are many enthusiasts among medical practitioners who believe that such exercise is beneficial, larger numbers, those who are beginning to see the results in spinal damage, now view with caution the practice of hammering the complex structure of the back with unaccustomed pounding and pressure.
Many exercises that have become popular in the national passion for fitness could be categorized as dangerous to the integrity of the back. …