Taking care of your back and Buddhism have two things in common, awareness and finding the middle way. For your spine to last a lifetime with less wear and tear, it works to know the position of your spine and, if you are load bearing or expect to be in that position for more than a few minutes, adjust into the middle position or “neutral”.
The bones in our lower spine allow for mostly forward and backward bending, or flexion and extension. When you flex there is pressure on the discs such that they can start deforming onto a nerve. When you extend, the bones move closer together and that can lead to arthritis. When you are lying down and stretching it is fine to flex and extend to the to the limits of your range of motion. But when sitting, standing, walking, lifting and such, the best place for the spine to be is neutral.
The first thing is to be aware. The second thing is to adjust if needed and if you are going to sit for a while, you can use the tilt of the seat or a back support so your muscles can relax. They will anyway after a few minutes!
Some folks learn how to find neutral using a “pelvic tilt” pretty fast. Others take longer. Sometimes I tape the back so people know when they are out of neutral. It is essential to learn this or your back won’t heal no matter how many massages or ice packs or pills you take.
So when I see patients, it’s one of the first things I teach. All our trainers know how to teach neutral spine too and will reinforce it when you train with them.
Cheers! Off for a hike.