Doctors are now saying that sitting is the new smoking. And unfortunately, thanks to the rapid development of technology across the board, more and more jobs are turning have people sitting in desks. As you might already know, sitting is related to a number of health hazards.
In this article, we want to highlight a few things about how sitting affects the health of your back and what you can do to prevent it from occurring. At the start, let’s see what are the common back issues related to sitting.
Common Back Issues
Even if you are not aware of it, your entire back and neck are constantly working to keep you in your desired posture. People often look down at the paperwork on their desks, smartphone screens, or computer screens. The weight of the head puts enormous strain on the muscles located in our neck and upper back.
In addition, if you have to multitask between phone calls and computer work while sitting, you can further strain your cervical vertebrae since you’re keeping the phone between your head and shoulders. All of the above can lead to irreversible imbalances. These problems usually manifest with pain and/or soreness in the neck and upper back.
Since heavy sitters keep their heads slumped forward, they put pressure on and overextend the muscles connecting the shoulders and the back as well. The muscle that gets hit the hardest is the trapezius. If you have ever experienced soreness in your shoulders, it probably originated from this muscle.
The last two common back issues related to sitting are inflexible spine and disk damages. The disks between our vertebrae are soft and elastic. When we move, they act like sponges, soaking all the nutrients they need to stay soft and elastic. But, when we sit, these disks are under uneven pressure, collagen starts to pile up and it slowly hardens around the ligaments, tendons and disks. The end result – an inflexible spine.
In addition, sitting can damage these disks, especially in the lumbar area, since the pressure is the highest there. This can cause the already hardened lumbar disks to get dislocated – causing lumbar disk hernia.
Bad posture is another thing that can cause the disks to get out of their socket. One of the muscles that goes through the abdominal cavity (psoas) pulls the upper lumbar spine forward. When the posture is bad, the upper body weight rests on the sitting bones instead of being equally distributed along the spine.
The Right Posture
You should know that a correct sitting posture requires some time and practice. But, if you stay devoted to learning it, you will be there in a matter of days. Here is what you have to do:
- When you take a seat, make sure that you go all the way back so that you cover the entire sitting area of the chair and so that your lower back gets support.
- Make sure that your back is straight and keep your shoulders back as well. Keeping the shoulders back is perhaps the hardest task. Feel free to watch numerous videos on YouTube to learn how to hold your shoulders back naturally.
- You can maintain normal curves in your back by placing a rolled-towel between the lumbar region of your back and the back support of your chair.
- When you take a seat, make sure that your body weight is evenly distributed on each of the hips. Don’t keep your legs crossed, as this will disbalance weight distribution.
- Make sure that your knee is either at the level of your hips or slightly above it. You can use a footrest accessory to achieve the right position.
- Your feet should be flat on the floor at all times.
- Every once in awhile, put your elbows and arms on your desk or chair. This will relax your shoulders and prevent soreness.
- If you are sitting on a chair that can roll and pivot, make sure not to twist the waist. This can lead to an injury. Instead, move by turning your whole body.
- Standing up from the chair is also something that you should pay close attention to. Don’t bending over at your waist when you want to stand up. Instead, move to the front of the seat, straighten your legs and stand up.
- Please don’t forget to stand up after sitting for 30 minutes, no matter how perfect your sitting posture is.
The Right Office Equipment
Office equipment plays an important role in keeping a healthy back. The best chairs come with a lot of features. Chairs with armrests (some even have adjustable ones), for instance, enable people to prevent soreness in their upper back and shoulders. There other perks that are quite beneficial for back health include chair height adjustment, an adjustable back position so that you can tilt it to find the best back support, comfortable/elastic cushion, and many other.
In order to avoid the repetitive strain injury, make sure that your keyboard and mouse are at the same height as your elbows so that your upper arms and forearms form a 90-degree angle when you are using them. In addition, the computer screen should be placed so that its top is in the same level as your eyes. It should be slightly tilted away and 20 to 30 inches away from your face.
Stretching and Breaks
I’ve already mentioned that breaks every 30 minutes are very beneficial. Since your muscles are constantly working while you are sitting to help you maintain your posture, standing up and moving around for a couple of minutes will give them a chance to relax.
Stretching enables muscles to work effectively while decreasing the risk of injuries. They are very beneficial for the muscles. You can check out 12 yoga stretches that can help you undo the damage done by sitting and help you build a stronger back.
If you spend a lot of time sitting, make sure to incorporate some of the advice I shared with you in this article. These practices will help you prevent getting your back injured while sitting and keep your back strong.