• Dr. AJ Gagliardi

Simple Steps to a Healthy Back

This month’s newsletter segues from May’s newsletter. I have included postures and movements that when done throughout your day will decrease the stresses you put on your entire spine. Not only will this decrease back problems, but you will use less energy throughout your work day; resulting in more energy for activities other than work. By following some of these simple and easy to do exercises you will have the ability to not only increase the endurance of your back, but also gain the empowerment to reduce and control your back pain. Ultimately my goal is to give you the ability to keep your own back healthy, decreasing your dependence on a healthcare practitioner, medicine, or any other therapy to relieve your pain.

William Faulkner once wrote, “It’s a shame that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day is work. He can’t eat for eight hours; he can’t drink for eight hours; he can’t make love for eight hours. The only thing a man can do for eight hours is work.” This quote epitomizes the impact our lifestyles have on our bodies. That being said, what we do for eight hours or more a day impacts our health to an extent that we all do not appreciate or realize. A lot of pain syndromes we experience can be solved by changing our everyday work routine. Please view the pictures to see how you can take charge of your back health during your work day. All of these exercises are geared to reverse the impact that sitting, slouching, and forward bending have on your spine.

I recommend doing these movements once every 20-30 minutes. They can be done at your desk, during lunch, or simply any time you feel like doing them.

1.) Brugger’s Relief Position

This position is my favorite because you can complete this move seated or standing and it takes seconds to perform. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Do this 2-3 times. It should take you no longer than a minute to perform.

Seated: Inch to the end of your chair with your knees in front of you and feet directly below your knees so that part of your butt is hanging over the front of the chair. First, keep your back straight and your chin tucked as shown in figure 1A and 1B. Next, drop your hands to your side’s flair your fingers (Refer to figure 1B Seated).

 Standing: Do the same as above just standing (Refer to figure 1B standing)


2.) Micro-Breaks (Standing Overhead Reach)

This motion is very simple and should be performed every time you get up from your desk or are in a prolonged slumped posture for more than 30 minutes. When standing, take your hands and move them to the start position (Refer to Figure 1 below). When your arms are almost fully extended reach a little farther to the end position (Refer to Figure 2 below), then bring only that hand back to the start position. Do the same with the other hand. Alternate arms until you have done a total of 16-20 movements. It should look like you are punching the sky, one hand at a time.


3.) Positions to Avoid in the Morning

As stated in your previous newsletter it is deleterious to endure a slumped posture within the first 1-2 hours after awakening. Below shows you how to keep your back healthy during routine pre-work rituals that we all do every day. Always try to keep your back as flat as you can while performing these activites.


**If these exercises are increasing your pain do not continue. Please email me and we will find out where the problem lies. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me.

Source: Liebenson, Craig. Rehabilitation of the Spine. 2nd Ed. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2007.

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