The incidence of back pain rates right after standard respiratory infections. It’s estimated that about 80 percent of the population suffers from this problem. Lumbago, scoliosis, chronic or acute pain – even though usually harmless, all these undesirable phenomena can be a major handicap.

back pain

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But, how can you explain this epidemic, widespread pain? Many people believe that the painful spinal blockages are caused by the stress and modern lifestyle.  But, scientists have a different explanation. They say that the main cause of back pain lies in evolution.

The Link Between Back Pain And Evolution

Kimberly Plomp, a paleontologist at the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, says that humans went from quadrupedal to bipedal movement very fast. Possibly, too fast.

About four million years ago, the human species occasionally moved on two legs. But, only two million years ago, they became two-legged. They started moving only on their two legs. Even though this might seem to you far apart, from evolution standpoint, it is actually quite short. This rapid change of how the human race moves could also explain the prevalence of back pain.

As it turns out, we pay for the privilege of walking upright with lower back pain. Namely, this pain occurs due to the pressure of the body on the spine, which was originally adapted for quadrupedal movement. This theory seems to be right, as our cousins the apes, which move on four and occasionally on two legs, suffer less or not at all from back pain.

Kimberly Plomp also studied the shape of the spine of orangutans, chimps, ancient and modern men. She came to a conclusion that the spine of people, most similar to the spine of chimpanzees, has a higher possibility of causing back pain. This is mostly owed to the composition and formation of the lower back.

So, the next time you experience lower back pain, blame it on the human evolution… and of course, on bad posture.

The ancestral shape hypothesis: an evolutionary explanation for the occurrence of intervertebral disc herniation in humans