Even as you read this article, you’re probably sitting; either in your office chair, your couch, the balcony, or any other place you usually do, which is alright unless you’ve been sitting for hours at a stretch.
Someone complaining about how long you sit isn’t new to anyone. Sitting is how we work, it is how we consume entertainment, or just let time pass by. This highly passive lifestyle, encouraged by our workplaces and entertainment providers, has been directly linked to the manifestation of several chronic diseases. Hence, even though prolonged sitting per se isn’t a disease, many in the medical community who have realised the disorders it can lead to, have coined the term ‘Sitting Disease’.
How Severe Is The ‘Sitting Disease’?
A 2012 study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys showed that as many as 70% of people spend more than six hours sitting every day either for their work, daily commute or for binge-watching TV.
A 2015 study again showed that this sedentary lifestyle increased the chances of developing several disorders such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even certain cancers of the breast, colon, colorectal, endometrial, etc. in adults, even if they exercised for some time of the day. Hence, the takeaway from the 2015 study was that prolonged sitting increased the risk of dying through various causes.
How Does It Affect Our Spine, Back & Neck?
The most common complain of every 9-to-5 employee today is soreness, stiffness and pain in their backs. This must not be ignored as minor pain as it has been proven to cause more choric disorders in the long run. To understand why sitting is the root cause of such problems, let’s understand what happens to your back when you sit.
When you’re in a seated position, the muscles around your neck and spine are stretched and the spinal disc experience compressive pressure. It also causes your hip flexors muscles to be pressurised and potentially causes some ischemia (restricted blood flow). The gluteus maximus muscle, which is an essential supporter of the spine, also suffers the same compressive pressure.
Now, when you sit for prolonged periods, you almost always slouch your posture, which is known as ‘poor posture syndrome’. This posture strains the spinal ligaments beyond their limits and exerts the same strain on the outer annulus of the spinal discs.
Repeating the same posture day after day can accelerate the wear and tear of the spinal discs and lead to various spinal problems such as disc bulging or herniation.
How To Prevent The Spine From ‘Sitting Disease’?
The key to saving your spine is moving around for at least a few minutes each half-hour to keep your spinal joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments flexible and active.
And if work is your highest excuse for sitting, you can now buy a ‘Sit-Stand’ or ‘Sit-to-Stand’ work desk which seamlessly transforms into a standing desk without disturbing your desk setup, improving your posture and boosting your productivity.
Other habits you can develop to maintain your spine health while at work include:
- Setting a 30-minute timer at your desk as a standing and stretching reminder
- Walking up to your coworker for sharing small information instead of messaging them
- Parking your vehicle a bit farther from the office
- Taking short walks during breaks
It is also equally important to strengthen the less used muscles such as the abdominals glutes, back extensors and scapular muscles as they support the spine’s muscle balance and improve your posture.
The sitting disease is a major concern amongst modern employees, which can only lead to degrading spinal problems if not rectified in time. If you’re experiencing persistent spinal, neck or back pain and are seeking a spine specialist in Borivali, you must visit Dr Akhil Tawari before taking any major steps. Being one of the most adept spine specialists, Dr Tawari can help you understand the condition of your spine more easily and help you with specialised treatment and prevention options for the same. Visit Dr Akhil Tawari’s website to contact him today.