Why Do Indigenous Cultures Have Less Back Pain?

If there is one physical health ailment that pretty much all of us can relate to, it has got to be back pain. I honestly can’t think of anyone I know who has not experienced some sort of pain in their upper or lower back at some point, whether it is due to arthritis and aging or it’s the result of a sudden injury or strain.

This is why I was so surprised to come across an article by National Public Radio that takes a look at the way indigenous people tend to avoid frequent back pain. However, as I kept reading, I realized that the lifestyle differences between the Western world and indigenous cultures, are significant enough to account for the overall change in back health and posture.

If you have ever seen an ancient Greek or Indian statue, you have probably noticed the remarkable and regal posture of these figures. The spines on these figures tend to be flatter than the ones we are accustomed to seeing on a regular basis. If you look closer, you will notice that the spines on these statues, which were of course modeled on the people who lived at the time, are formed more in a J shape, as opposed to the S shape that we are familiar with. A J shaped spine is very flat and straight all the way down to the back until the bottom, where there is a slight J shaped curve. As it turns out, this is the ideal and natural spine shape to achieve. The common S shape here in Western society is actually unnatural and is a big indicator of our back aches and pains.

So why do our spines curve in such a dramatically different way? For starters, our population tends to be more overweight than those of ancient and indigenous cultures. This will gradually cause a greater curvature to the spine as the body adapts to support the weight it has taken on. Our sedentary lifestyle doesn’t help matters either. We spend a great amount of our time sitting in a car or train, sitting in front of our desks, or sitting on a couch for hours at a time. This is not conducive to increasing muscle tone and strength, which are two factors that influence the curve of the spine.

Fortunately you can take steps to improve spine health. Implementing a health diet and exercise regimen, in addition to regular chiropractic adjustments, can help improve your posture and overall health.

Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Lydur Skulason

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