11 hours. This is the average amount of time a person sits each day. The average American also sleeps 7 hours per night. This means that for nearly 18 hours of our day we live a sedentary lifestyle. This is a far cry from the way our ancestors lived as hunters and gatherers. How have we drastically transitioned into these sedentary beings? Is it due to advancing technology? Job requirements? Our busy lives? Pain? Are we just becoming lazy? This question is up for debate, but what is not up for debate is how unhealthy it is to sit all day. I recently listened to a podcast that discussed some of the effects sitting all day had on our bodies and I thought it would be worth sharing…
Do you sit often and have low back pain? If this is true, sitting could be one of the worst things you can do for your low back. When we sit we increase the load/pressure on our intervertebral disc. This increased disc pressure can lead to nerve irritation and symptoms of sciatica. Often times people will round their low back/slouch while sitting, placing ourselves at a greater risk to strain muscles of the low back. While sitting we are constantly activating our hip flexor muscles and not activating our hipextensor muscles. This can lead to an imbalance in our pelvis and symptoms of low back and hip pain.
Do you sit often and have neck pain? Sitting at a desk can often lead to what is called “anterior head carriage”. This is a fancy word for saying your head is sliding forward in relationship to your neck. For every inch that our head is displaced forward on our neck it adds about 10lbs of weight on the joints and themuscles of the upper back and neck that support our head. This can lead to an array of symptoms including: neck stiffness, neck pain, and headaches.
Do you sit often and have pain in the shoulder blades/midback? Sitting with bad posture can lead to excessively rounded shoulders and “hyperkyphosis”. Hyperkyphosis is when our thoracic spine/mid-back begins to curve the opposite way. Think of the hunchback of Notre-Dame. Those knots that you get on the inside of your shoulder blade can even be impacted by sitting. While we sit we often activate our pectoral muscles and have a lack of activation in the muscles that help to stabilize the scapula, leading to these knots.
Listed above are some of the common effects sitting has on our musculoskeletal system, but the research says that sitting may have far worse consequences…
The department of medicine at Columbia University recently did research that looked at the association between sitting and all-cause mortality. Their research headed by Dr. Diaz concluded that “Both the total volume of sedentary time and its accrual in prolonged, uninterrupted bouts are associated with all-cause mortality, suggesting that physical activity guidelines should target reducing and interrupting sedentary time to reduce risk for death.” Another research article done in the Netherlands found an association between sitting and type 2 diabetes. There have also been numerous research articles published on the association between sitting and the following: obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.
So Cody, how do I avoid the consequences of sitting? I’m glad you asked. Here are some action steps!
1. Get up every 25 minutes from your desk! Set a timer, get up, and move around! Doing corrective stretches/exercisescan go a long way to help combat the effects of sitting!(YouTube: cat/camel, prone press-ups, cervical retractions)
2. Consider getting a standing desk! Getting a desk that has a standing option could be great for you if you spend most of your day sitting!
3. Get a lumbar support roll! This roll will help to support the low back and keep you in a more preferred posture by helping reinforce the natural curve of the low back. These rolls are very cheap; it doesn’t make sense not to have one!
4. Try to get at least 10,000 steps/day! This can be easily tracked with most smart phones and fit-bit type devices.
5. COME IN AND GET CHIROPRACTIC CARE! If you want to feel better and move better chiropractic care is the best place to start!
Thanks for reading this week’s blog! Feel free to email me any questions you may have at Needhamchiro@gmail.com. I’m still running a special of just $30 for a new patient consultation, exam, and treatment! Call today to schedule your appointment at 217-525-2035!