I’ll bet you’re sitting down, as you read this. That’s OK. I sat while I wrote it!
Sitting is something we do in our society for about 6 hours every day (more or less). Many of us work sitting in a chair. We sit to eat, to watch TV and to read. But the thing about sitting is that it puts a lot of pressure on your spine.
I don’t want to demonize the act of sitting. I just want my readers to know about the long-term consequences of being seated for long periods, so they can take remedial action.
So, if you’re asking yourself, “Is sitting bad for my back?”, I have both bad news and good. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.
Bad News About Sitting
When you’re sitting, it’s obvious that you’re not using your legs and glutes. They’re just sitting there. Ultimately, this means your core is de-stabilized, which may lead to eventual injury. And then there’s the weight gain thing.
When you’re moving around, your body releases chemicals which help to metabolize the food and drink you consume. Because you’re moving, you’re using fuel instead of storing it. When you sit all the time, you’re prone to “spread” in the buttocks and the mid-section. And it’s in the mid-section that fat is at its most harmful.
Your hips and back take the brunt of a sedentary lifestyle. As with your legs and glutes, they weaken and furthermore, your hip flexors shorten. There’s also the danger of developing disc degeneration, due to the pressure exerted on the spinal column by sitting.
But your neck can suffer too, especially if you model poor posture habits like craning your head toward the screen of a computer and slouching in your chair.
There’s other bad news, but I think you get the picture.
Good News About Sitting
The good news about sitting is that you can do much to mitigate the effects. For example, an ergonomic chair and work station, or a sit/stand (allowing flexibility) work station can really help. When you change positions, or your chair adjusts your posture into a configuration which is less harmful to the body, sitting is less of a problem.
Some people even sit on large exercise balls to keep their muscles working.
More good news – you’re not nailed to that chair. Getting up periodically and moving around and/or stretching is your best weapon against the deleterious effects of sitting for prolonged periods. Sit for an hour. Get up for 10 minutes.
And no. You’re not too busy.
So, yes. While sitting is bad for your back (and other parts of your body), you’re not compelled to be seated continually. Getting up, moving around, stretching, re-organizing your work space, checking your posture and getting enough exercise are your weapons against the fallout of sitting.
Got back pain? Then, come see us at Back & Body Medical. I’m a chiropractor, working with a multi-disciplinarian team of pain relief clinicians – acupuncturists, physical therapists and sports medicine experts.