Back pain is becoming more and more common in today’s world. If you were asked what kind of job causes the most back pain, you might think it was one that requires heavy lifting and being on your feet all day. While that would not be wrong, you may be surprised to learn that desk jobs and sitting for long periods of time can be just as hard on the structures in the back. For example, one woman who had been a nurse for 12 years took a job requiring her to sit in front of a computer screen all day. While it may seem like a job to help your back feel better, she actually ended up with nerve pain in her left shoulder, neck, and back. This shows that too much sitting can be just as bad as too much standing.
Researchers have been looking into the effects of too much sitting. Whether you are sitting at your computer screen at work or sitting and watching TV at home, sitting is not good for your health. What kind of health problems are related to sitting too much?
- Back pain
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Increased risk of heart disease
Why Is Sitting So Serious?
Studies reveal it does not matter what your overall calorie intake or physical activity level is. If you are sitting all day, you are not in good shape. Why? Immobile muscles lose their ability to process fats and sugar as effectively as they should. This can result in multiple health problems, such as high cholesterol and diabetes.
Studies performed as long ago as the 1950s showed how people with sedentary jobs, such as bus drivers, were two times more prone to developing heart disease than their more active counterparts, such as mailmen. In more recent times, we have developed metabolic syndrome linked to extended TV watching and time spent on computers and other digital devices. Metabolic syndrome is linked to the development of heart problems and diabetes. As far as back pain is concerned, sitting can flatten out the curve of the lower back putting a strain on the arms, upper body, and shoulders.
What Can I Do?
So, you may be wondering what you can do. It is not always possible for someone to quit their job and find a more physical job. You will be happy to know there are a few things you can do to help alleviate the negative effects of sitting.
The first step is to get up and move. Even if all you can do is five minutes every hour, your body will thank you. Of course, the more you do, the better off you will be. Just by getting your body into multiple different positions during the day and starting to stretch here and there, you will reap good benefits.
Exercising when you get off of work is a good idea, but you cannot rely on this entirely to keep you healthy. If you are sitting for 8 – 10 hours and only taking an hour’s worth of exercise classes at the gym, it is not enough. It is recommended for you to take several 10- to 15-minute breaks throughout the day to stretch and walk around.
It is also important to pay attention to your posture at all times. This helps you to avoid stress and strain while you are at work. Exercise programs like Pilates and the Alexander Technique focus on coordination and range of motion. These can help you build body awareness and keep better posture. Flexibility is important and is something that should be practiced while you are at work.
Try Ergonomics to Alleviate Back Pain
There are steps you can take to make your office more friendly to the health of your body and back. For one thing, your monitor should be at eye level and you should never hunch over to see the computer screen. There are things called sit-stand stools that let you take turns between sitting or leaning. Sitting on a balance ball can be helpful, too. The ball helps keep your back muscles in a state of being awake at all times and keeps you more active. There are also chairs that have their seats tipped forward and support below so you do not slide off. These help support the lower curve of the back.
Turn Your Noon Break into a Workout
If you use your lunch break to get some exercise in, you will increase your circulation and warm up your muscles that were beginning to tighten. Focus on tightening your abs and back and then do some stretches for the lower back, shoulders, and hip flexors.
What If You Still Have Back Pain?
If you feel like it is too late and you already have back pain, it might be a good time to visit an upper cervical chiropractor. It is likely that you have a misalignment in one of the top vertebrae of the neck. You may wonder how you could have gotten a misalignment of this type. Well, it is very common in people who sit all day and keep their head at a certain angle so as to see a computer screen. This misalignment can be as small as ¼ of a millimeter and still cause problems throughout the body.
We use a gentle technique to help these bones move back into their original position. We do not have to pop or crack the neck to get positive results. Rather, the bones move back into place naturally and the body is then allowed to heal from the damage done by the misalignment. Receiving care from an upper cervical chiropractor often results in the alleviation of back pain.