In 2010, I published a seated unloading strategy called chair-care in The Spine Journal.
The research was titled: Magnetic resonance imaging and stadiometric assessment of the lumbar discs after sitting and chair-care decompression exercise: a pilot study. Using upright or dynamic MRI, we took serial images to see what kind of changes occurred in the intervertebral discs with fifteen minutes of sitting with an effort to measure changes with a simple seated unloading strategy I had clinical success with.
Even though the sample size was small, significant changes were seen. We looked at total lumbar disc height changes, lordotic angle and vertical displacement from T12-S1. In short, the spine got shorter with sustained sitting and got taller with the exercise.
With a trend towards more sitting jobs (including my tasks writing this blog topic), offering a simple cost effective strategy to move the spinal joints in a favourable will continue to be of interest to researchers. Using only ones arms to offload the spine can be very beneficial to the intervertebral discs with this simple decompression exercise. It only takes a few seconds and most of us do it naturally when we shift our position while we sit anyways. Pay attention to what you are doing when you shift in a seated position. Try to do it in slowed down motion and observe how you offload the spine. This is similar to the exercise we measured.
Chair-care exercise has helped hundreds of people. And since the publication, I knew there were going to be people asking how to unload the spine while standing. So, here you go.