Do you spend hours sitting at a desk while working? Does your day involve staring at a screen for focused periods of time? Do you notice your posture struggling with the surprising demands of sitting?
You’re not alone. The average American now spends more than 10 hours per day in front of a screen. As computer-based jobs continue to grow in prevalence, it’s not unexpected. However, the ramifications of sitting for this significant portion of our time are much more serious than many of us may give credit.
Implications Of A Sedentary Life
“Sitting is the new smoking.” This phrase has been coined to help the general population understand the gravity of the toll that prolonged, consistent sitting can have on our bodies. It can be understandably difficult to fully grasp just how serious sitting can be. After all, it’s necessary for everyone to rest and sit at times! However, the issue we’re facing today is the drastic amount of time that our population is sedentary. This sitting “epidemic” has been strongly correlated back to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and other chronic illnesses. In short, it’s time to start paying attention.
Gradual weight gain. Did you know prolonged daily sitting significantly impacts the amount of calories your body is able to naturally burn? Even if you’re not working out per se, walking consistently throughout the day significantly increases general, healthy caloric burn. As our modern society is engineered toward sitting more, our collective normal caloric output is decreasing drastically. This lifestyle change has contributed greatly to significant weight gain.
Poor posture, chronic pain. On top of unnecessary weight gain, prolonged sitting can also severely impact posture. Bad posture puts undue stress on your joints and certain muscles, which can easily lead to chronic pain. In fact, ongoing back pain is the leading work-induced disability, as well as the highest cited contributor to missed workdays. When we’re sitting, it’s easy to hunch forward, usually toward the screen we’re looking at. A forward head positioning can put undue strain and stress on your muscles, as well as contribute to shoulder and back pain, and more frequent headaches. When this behavior is perpetuated day after day, it can become problematic. Chronic poor posture and back pain due to poor posture can also make necessary, healthy movement and activity are more and more uncomfortable.
Everyday Ways To Improve Posture, Even At Work
If your job requires you to sit at a desk for long periods each day, don’t fret! There are plenty of simple, accessible ways to improve your ergonomic sitting situation for your long-term health right in your office.
Swap out your chair. For starters, you can swap out a normal chair for a large exercise ball. The slightly unstable surface helps to keep your core and spine engaged in a much different way than a chair allows. Don’t feel like you need to go cold-turkey though; you can still keep your chair around to swap between time on the ball. Changing it up like this throughout the day may seem like a minor action, but the small movements it requires your body to go through can yield big benefits long-term.
Stand while working. Many have also found relief from using a sit-stand desk situation. On top of taking better care of your spine, these desks have also been linked to improved collaboration, job satisfaction, and managing or even reversing health problems. They are becoming more and more common in modern workplaces that are prioritizing the health of their employees.
Take stretch breaks. You should also try to take small walking and stretching breaks. Get outside for a casual stroll during lunch. During the crunch hours of the day, use water and bathroom breaks as an excuse to move and also do some gentle stretching. If you’re more confined to your desk area, consider practicing some basic yoga poses. There are many online tutorials that walk you through basic stretches and only require the space that a small cubicle may give you.
Practice mindful posture. When you do find yourself sitting, be proactive about your posture. Think about sitting with your shoulders back yet relaxed, an engaged core, and feet firmly planted on the ground. Reference this infographic for more tips on how to properly sit and incorporate small movements to help your body throughout the workday.
The Role Of Chiropractic With Posture
Though many people work with a chiropractor to help with back pain after it has begun, it can pay huge benefits to use as preventative care as well. When you’re sitting for a significant amount of the day, it’s good to be as proactive about postural health as possible. Chiropractic care and adjustments of the spine can help realign your body to keep your nervous and immune systems functioning properly. Ongoing chiropractic care can also help you maintain good posture more easily throughout the workday by keeping your spine aligned.
If your work requires a healthy dose of sitting on a daily basis, it may be valuable to consider working chiropractic care into your routine as a preventative measure. If you’d like to schedule an initial evaluation to get you started, we would be happy to get you on our patient calendar. Schedule an appointment online or call (423) 380-1155.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.