Why Does Standing Make Your Back Hurt?

You won't want to sit down for this news.

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Q: If standing is so good for you, why does it make your back hurt?

Oz Says: I'm all for standing as much as possible, so it's important you find a way to do it comfortably. There's no doubt now that sitting is the new smoking. In one study, women who sat more than 11 hours a day were more likely to die from coronary heart disease (up 27%) and cancer (21%) than those who sat less than four hours. If getting vertical is a pain, the trouble could be the way you're doing it, says Linda Van Dillen, Ph.D., musculoskeletal researcher at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. You may be arching or hunching your back, or standing too still, which puts pressure on one set of muscles the whole time you're up. Use these tweaks to find relief:

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  • Wear flats. Heels make you fudge your posture to maintain balance when you're standing. In the right position, your ears, shoulders, and hips should all line up.
  • Fidget. Switch your stance often while on your feet, or take a quick sitting break.
  • Stand with one foot on a stool. This keeps your lower back from arching, which is why docs do it in the OR. In fact, my father, also a surgeon, taught me this trick.

This story originally appeared in the October/November 2014 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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