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Help for workers suffering from back pain

New Yorkers who work in offices, on the road and on construction sites are all at risk for suffering from work-related back pain. Nationwide, back pain is the second most frequent reason that Americans visit healthcare providers. Much of this pain begins with either back injury or back strain caused at work.

Help may be just a few correct movements away. A recent study published in the British Journal of Medicine indicates that correct usage of the Alexander technique can aid in relieving up to 86 percent of an individual's chronic back pain.

The Alexander technique has been utilized since the 1890's. It is rooted in the concept that a body's skeletal frame should be held and moved in correct alignment. When this is accomplished, the body works less hard and is saved unnecessary muscle tension.

When one moves, stands or even sits in incorrect alignment, the body shifts weight and pressure to points in the body which can cause pain. One instructor board-certified in the Alexander technique recently noted that "sitting with the back in a C-curve, for example, requires the head to jut forward, putting as much as nearly 20 pounds of extra weight on the neck and spine."

The British Medical Journal study is not the only recent evidence that this technique can greatly ease the suffering of those with back pain. Late last year, John Hopkins released a health alert on the subject, advocating that chronic back pain sufferers explore the Alexander technique as alternative therapy. In addition, Human Movement and Science also published a study last year indicating that the practice reduces stiffness and enhances muscle responsiveness in lower back pain sufferers.

When we live and work with back pain, it can negatively affect us in ways we don't even realize.

But whether walking around a construction site or sitting in an office chair, we may be able to alleviate back pain simply by following some old advice and being mindful of our posture.

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "Age-old Alexander technique a new way to deal with back pain," Nicole Brochu, Jan. 20, 2012

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