By Michelle Bachelor, PT, DPT, CIMT
You’ve heard it before; sitting all day is bad for your health. However, most of us are not aware of exactly why sitting is bad, nor do we realize just how detrimental sitting can be to our health.
Global studies show that we sit between 7 and 8 hours a day on average, with some studies reporting as high as 15 hours. It is estimated that 86% of Americans sit all day at work and 16% reported pre-existing injuries being exacerbated by sitting at work.
The American Medical Association (AMA) agrees that sitting for these extended periods of time can have extreme consequences for personal health and the medical community is becoming increasingly concerned about the negative health effects of sitting. As therapists, we see the negative physical impact that the “sitting disease” has on many of our patients on a daily basis. The most common occurrences that we frequently treat include:
Studies have shown that the hip flexor muscles in the front of the hips (know as iliopsoas) become short and tight with prolonged sitting. Consequently, when you go to stand and walk, the shortened hip flexors limit your hip ROM, stride length, and increase forward pulling onto the lower back. Sitting also decreases your gluteal and abdominal muscle activity which help to keep you upright, maintain good posture, stability of the spine, improve your ability to push off with strides, and walk up steps.
Prolonged sitting can also increase your risk for spinal inflexibility or disk damage. During movement, the soft discs between vertebrae expand and contract soaking up blood and nutrients like a sponge. This movement is essential for disc health and preventing disc hardening and spinal stiffness. Prolonged sitting or slouching in an office chair can also increase your risk for herniated lumbar discs. This occurs when the spine is flexed for too long during sitting and the disc in between the vertebrae in the spine begins to bulge out of the spinal column.
Strained Neck and Sore Shoulders
Spending most of your day sitting at a desk or at a computer can cause you to lean your neck forward towards the keyboard or monitor causing strain onto the cervical vertebrae and muscles. The forward weight of the head can contribute to degenerative disc disease and other degenerative neck problems. The demand of repetitive keyboarding, mousing, tilting your head to cradle a phone, or slouching with forward shoulders also increases postural and vertebral stress and causes muscle strain. Forward head, and rounded shoulders not only feed into a neck problem, but can also lead to epidemic injuries including shoulder pain, hand and wrist pain, and back pain.
For a helpful infographic with recommendations on correct sitting posture and exercises to do in your office, click here.
By Michelle Bachelor, PT, DPT, CIMT You’ve heard it before; sitting all day is bad for your health. However, most of us are not aware of exactly why sitting is bad, nor do we realize just how detrimental sitting can be to our health. Global studies show that we sit between 7 and 8 hours a day on average, with some studies reporting as high as 15 hours. It is estimated that 86% of Americans sit all day at work and 16% reported pre-existing injuries being exacerbated by sitting at work. The American Medical Association (AMA) agrees...read more
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