My name is Diana De Carvalho. I am an assistant professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland and I study what happens to our backs when we bend forward or sit.
I’ve always been interested in a ton of different things, from music and art to science and the way things work. I especially loved learning about the human body how we can apply the principles of physics to understand how we move, do things, get hurt or get better. This was the spark that led me to study science in university and ultimately to become a chiropractor. I loved helping people in clinic, but I also had a ton of questions about back pain that hadn’t really been answered yet. Especially why some people seem to be able to sit for really long period of time without back pain, and why other people can’t. So back to school I went! I finished my Master’s of Science and PhD in Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and then started my position here at MUN in 2015.
Most people who have office jobs sit for the majority of their workday, so studying sitting is very relevant. Probably even more so now that people are doing their best to work remotely at home or limit their activity in the community in accordance with physical distancing recommendations. Bending for long periods of time is thought to place extra stress on the back and may lead to pain or injury. One of the most interesting things my research group has found so far is that experiencing pain during sitting happens to some people, not all, and can happen even if there is no history of clinical low back pain. It doesn’t look like there is a right or wrong way to sit to avoid this, but it would make sense that taking frequent breaks and moving around more would be helpful. We have lots of interesting experiments planned to try and answer these questions.