We often cannot avoid sitting for longer periods of time, and more often than not we wind up in a forward flexed posture that is very hard on our necks, backs, and shoulders. A couple of small adjustments can make sitting a little easier on our bodies. First thing, take a movement break as often as you can--at least every 30-45 minutes. Our brains tend to take a mental vacation from what we are working on around that time anyway so just add a 30 second standing or movement break to help change the forces on your body. Additionally, small modifications to your work set-up can go a long way. Make sure that your screen is at eye level, your keyboard/mouse are at elbow level. Keep your back and hips scooted back to utilize the backrest and add a small lumbar support (like a small pillow or rolled towel) if there isn’t already one in your chair. Keep your feet flat on the ground, and sit in a chair where the hip height is slightly above the knee height. Practice keeping your ears in line with the base of your neck to prevent your head from migrating forward. Most importantly, remember that the best posture is the next posture and keep moving. AND, if you are still having neck/back or shoulder pain while working that doesn’t get better with some small changes, visit us at Life in Balance PT and we can help make an individualized treatment plan for you.
"Sitting is the new smoking" is a catchy and somewhat alarming comparison that highlights the potential health risks associated with prolonged sedentary behavior. This phrase is often used to emphasize the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, which can include long periods of sitting, whether it's at work, during commuting, or in leisure time. The comparison to smoking is made to underline the seriousness of these risks, even though sitting and smoking are different in many ways. Here’s why sitting is considered so detrimental:
Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases: Prolonged sitting has been linked to an increased risk of various chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. This is similar to smoking, which also significantly increases the risk of these conditions.
Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome: Sitting for long periods can contribute to obesity and metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. These are risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Impact on Physical Health: Extended sitting can lead to muscle degeneration, particularly in the lower body, as well as poor circulation and even blood clots (deep vein thrombosis). It can also contribute to osteoporosis due to insufficient weight-bearing activity.
Mental Health Issues: A sedentary lifestyle can also impact mental health. There is evidence to suggest that it can be associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety, similar to the detrimental effects of smoking on mental health.
Decreased Longevity: Just like smoking, a sedentary lifestyle can decrease overall life expectancy. Studies have shown that prolonged sitting is associated with an increased risk of mortality, independent of physical activity levels.
Impact on Posture and Musculoskeletal Disorders: Sitting, especially with poor posture, can lead to back and neck pain, repetitive strain injuries, and other musculoskeletal disorders.
While sitting can be harmful, especially in excess, it is not as directly damaging as smoking. To mitigate the harm, we, of course, recommend regular physical activity, taking frequent breaks from sitting, practicing good posture, and incorporating standing or walking into daily routines.