According the National Institutes of Health 8 out of 10 individuals will suffer back problems at some point in their lives. The main reason? Chairs, lack of exercise and weight gain.
The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that spending on spine treatments in the United States totaled nearly $86 billion in 2005, a rise of 65 percent over eight years, after adjusting for inflation. Despite the spending increase, the proportion of people with impaired function due to spine problems increased during the period, even after controlling for an aging population. Why is this happening?
According to the medical community, it is not totally clear why more people appear to be suffering from back and neck pain. Many researchers suggest it is due to the increase in obesity rates and the sedentary nature of most employees lives. It is a well documented fact that an effective means of strengthening patient's backs is through walking. Additionally the amount of time spent sitting in chairs has a dramatic effect on back problems.
Sitting puts nearly twice the strain on backs as standing and poor sitting postures exacerbate the problems further.
Walking is the most beneficial low impact exercise to strengthen the back and walking with a treadmill desk is even more low impact than a jaunt around the block (due to soft deck technologies of most treadmills). Movement allows the vertabrae to act as shock absorbers and also receive necessary nutrients for spinal health. This is cut off entirely when we sit in the same poor positions for eight hour days.
Sitting also reduces the flexibility of the psoas (dominant hip flexor) affecting how the pelvis rotates and increases the stress on the lower back.
Walking daiiy with treadmill desks free employees from the shackles of a desk job and allow them to strengthen their back and leg muscles. This greatly impacts their health and keeps back problems at bay.
Update: 2014. Australian researchers found the most commonly prescribed treatment for back pain, consisting of acetaminophen and rest was completely ineffective and perhaps harmful. Since inactivity is the leading cause of back problems in an ever increasingly sedentary world additional rest seems to exacerbate the problem not relieve it.
Crhis Sebelski, an associate professor at Saint Louis University chimed in on the research and offered her take on the issue: "Instead of sitting at your desk for hours, change positions, stand for 20 minutes, or go for a walk and talk to someone. Movement will keep you healthy and allow you to adjust. It’s a myth that it’s all about the low back. People forget that it is the center building block in your whole body. Your hips, pelvis and even feet are connected with it.” Read the entire interview here.