Why sitting isn't the new smoking

December 2, 2016

Many of you will have heard that sitting still during the working day is as detrimental to our health as smoking. Now this is true to some extent, but it isn’t just sitting that’s the issue. It’s the staying in one position for a long period of time that is unhealthy. It can be just as bad for your health to stand still for the same amount of time.


So, why is it so unhealthy to stay in one position?


When sitting or standing, the body has to work to counteract the effects of gravity. Naturally the body wants to fall forward, especially if you’re straining to look at a computer. Once the head and neck comes forward, the shoulders are dragged with them or vice versa due to their musculoskeletal connections. This then in turn will begin to round your upper back, which leads to changes throughout your spine. Your neck will extend in an attempt to keep your eyes looking forward and holding your neck in this position is almost guaranteed to lead to pain. On top of this, flexing your upper back will have an effect on the pressure going through the lower back, especially the intervertebral discs. All of these changes mean that over time it is inevitable that you will wind up with some kind of neck, shoulder, mid back or lower back pain.


It’s not just your back that is supposed to suffer from sitting still all day as well.


But what if I make sure I’m sitting up straight all day?


In theory, this is a great idea. However, try sitting up straight for 5 minutes whilst working. One of two things will happen. Either, you’ll forget to sit up straight whilst focussing on your work, or you find that actually sitting up straight takes a lot more effort than you might think, and your muscles will become fatigued anyway.


Unless you have naturally perfect posture (I’m pretty certain no one does), then a sedentary work place isn’t going to do you any favours. Good news though, there are things you can do!


What’s the solution then?


All you have to do to help combat the effects of being stationary is move. Very simple…


Every 20-30 minutes, get up from your seat and walk around. Maybe even do some stretches if you don’t mind getting funny looks from your co-workers. That’s all it takes. Just 2 minutes of moving around and stretching will go a long way to stopping you from developing any of those horrible aches and pains I mentioned above.


If you’re suffering from a sore neck or back that you can’t quite shake, maybe as a result of being sedentary at work, then come in and see one of our Osteopaths. We will be able to provide treatment and tailored exercises that will help reduce your symptoms, and help get your health back on track.

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