Sitting for long periods increases the risk of heart failure in men, even for those who exercise regularly, according to research published last year in the American Heart Association Journal. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, excessive time spent sitting takes years off one’s life. This has led some to call sitting “the new smoking.”
“Our bodies are meant to be in motion all the time,” says Victoria Chiropractor Dr. Stephanie Louie.
It is not surprising, then, that many of Dr. Louie’s patients sit at desks for extended periods of time, and come to her after experiencing back pain, tingling in their hands, sore necks, and other ailments.
“Sitting puts excessive pressure on your spine versus lying down,” Dr. Louie says, adding that standing and walking put less pressure on the back than sitting does.
When one works at a desk all day, they tend to move their head forward to see the computer screen better, which causes the muscles in the mid-back and back of the neck to become tense and tighten. At the same time, muscles in the front of the neck weaken, which puts strain on the spinal cord. This may result in numbness of fingers and hands, neck pain or back discomfort.
Desk-sitters, frequent texters, and drivers also often roll their shoulders forward, resulting in the pectoral/chest muscles getting shortened and tight, and back muscles getting weak. This can result in arm pain, headaches, lower back pain, disc issues, tightness, spinal issues, and pinching off nerves to one’s organs.
There are a few things people can do to prevent some of these issues. They can take a short break every 20 – 30 minutes to perform these simple, short exercises that promote back health, as well as make some adjustments to their work station. Here are a few ergonomic solutions that Dr. Louie recommends:
- Invest in an adjustable desk where you can either sit or stand.
- While standing, rest one foot on a solid surface six inches off the ground.
- Make sure your computer is positioned directly in front of you, and not at an angle or to the side.
- If you use a laptop computer, purchase an ergonomically-friendly laptop stand and use an external keyboard, so that you aren’t looking down at your screen.
A Chiropractor, like Dr. Louie at Mind Body Spine in Saanich, can help with problems resulting from lengthy periods of sitting.
“We as a society need to invest in our health,” Dr. Louie advises. “You only get one body – you’ve got to invest in yourself to keep it in optimal condition for the rest of your life.”
The Suggestions and advice provided by Dr. Louie should not be relied upon in place of a chiropractor professional assessment.