As humans we are meant to be upright and are built for movement. Anatomically we haven’t changed much from our “hunter/gatherer” ancestors however our lifestyles have quite significantly. A large percentage of the population live very sedentary lives, working hours on end at a desk and getting little exercise.
The most common conditions associated with sitting for prolonged periods:
- Postural Changes
When we sit, we tend to slouch. It is almost unavoidable. You can sit with good posture right up until the muscles fatigue and then you begin to slouch. Over years and years our posture adapts to our lifestyles, which can manifest into painful conditions and premature degeneration of our spinal joints.
- Weakened Core
Having a strong core is important as it plays a major role in protecting the spine. However when we sit, the core is less active/contracted hence there is more pressure put on the spinal joints. Use it or lose it…heard it before? Sitting for too long leads to core muscle deterioration and fat accumulation around the abdomen.
Tip: standing desks are awesome because when we stand we engage our core protecting the spine and is a lot better for our posture.
- Weak Legs and Gluts
Our leg muscles are meant to be strong as they are supposed to be supporting our body. As mentioned earlier when we don’t use them, we lose them. So our muscles start to waste and without strong gluts and legs to stabilise us, you are at increased risk of injury.
- Muscle Imbalances
Muscle imbalances occur with poor posture. There are two common muscle imbalance that occur: Upper Cross Syndrome and Lower Crossed Syndrome
- Neck and Low Back Pain
Sitting for prolonged periods with bad posture leads to increased stress on spinal joints; commonly the discs in the low back become compressed. Compressed discs can lead to conditions such as annular tears, pinched nerves and sciatica.
The human head approximately weights about 4-5kg and while we sit our head is typically in the forward position or looking down. What this does is increase the load on the neck and shoulder muscles hence they have to work extra hard to support it. This leads to tight shoulders that can lead headaches, and changes in our neck curve that can lead to chronic pain and spinal degeneration.
- Increased Weight
No surprise here. Increased weight increased stress on your joints.
- Diabetes and Heart Disease
Studies have shown that people who have sedentary lifestyles have an increased risk of developing diabetes and/or heart disease.
Remember to move
Moving is good for your spinal and overall health. Sitting and lying for too long increases the risk of chronic health problems such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Postural changes and muscle imbalances also occur, which can manifest into painful episodes or premature degeneration of your spinal joints.
Steps to break the cycle:
- Get out and move
- Take regular breaks from sitting
- Have your work station ergonomically assessed
- Get a standing or adjustable desk
- Get a back support
- Stretch tight muscles and strengthen weakened muscles
- When sitting try your best to sit upright and engage your core
For any further questions, are in pain or want to improve your posture contact us today.