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Are You Sitting Pretty?

Don’t Let a Desk Job Sabotage Your Spine!

How many hours per day do you spend sitting down?  If your job involves working at a desk all day, the answer is probably “way too many.” Unfortunately, sitting for hours on end (or sitting on your end for hours) is not a healthy habit. In fact, studies suggest that sitting for more than half of your day can increase your chances of developing serious health problems including back pain, diabetes, obesity and more.

Just as troubling, these chronic conditions can keep you from being as active as you want and need to be when you’re away from the office, thus establishing a self-perpetuating cycle of illness.

Given the fact that about 80 percent of our jobs require deskwork, it’s no surprise that the average American suffers from the troubling side effects of sitting – but back pain doesn’t have to plague your waking, and working, hours. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Practice proper posture

The spine has a natural curve and is built to support the weight of your upper body, but this curve is warped when you crumple yourself into a chair. Sitting in the typical office chair puts up to 40 percent more weight on the spine and can begin to deteriorate the integrity of the vertebrae in as little as 20 minutes, especially if you are slouching.

Poor posture forces the spine to adjust to best manage the weight of your body, and a sitting position only increases the pressure on your already burdened spine. Here’s a 20-second video that demonstrates the proper way to sit so your spine doesn’t suffer; more information on spine-safe positions is available in our collection of Back to Basics videos.

2. Don’t sit still for back pain

Regardless of your posture, keeping your body in a static position for an extended period of time can put stress on the supporting muscles in the back, and potentially lead to long-term damage – so stand up for your spine by getting up, stretching and walking as often as you can.

Daily exercise goes a long way toward limiting the negative effects of a sedentary office job in terms of your weight and wellness – but not enough. New research indicates that exercise alone can’t fully erase the impacts of staying still for prolonged periods, and that sitting less is the answer. Adjustments to your work routine can help relieve spinal tension and encourage the body to burn more calories. Even small changes, like making time in your day to go get water, walk to the restroom, or simply stroll down the hall and back every hour can make a significant difference. If a standing desk is an option in your office, you might want to explore whether it’s right for you as well.

3. Consult an expert when needed

When stretching and spine savvy practices are not enough, it’s worth consulting a health professional who can help identify the true source of your back pain and recommend viable treatment options. Dr. Chetan Patel and the medical team at The Spine Health Institute regularly diagnose, treat and help patients to avoid recurring back pain through conservative treatment plans including physical therapy, pain management techniques and injury avoidance strategies. In a majority of cases, patients are able to obtain substantial pain relief via such methods, with no surgical intervention necessary. But in the instance when all else has failed, Dr. Patel can provide the most advanced and least invasive surgical options for patients in his care. Learn how the Spine Health Institute’s comprehensive and patient-driven approach to spine health can make a major difference by reading some of our patient success stories.

If you experience back pain from sitting, have back pain that is severe or have pain that interrupts your daily life, set up a consultation with Dr. Patel and the Spine Health Institute today using the Book Online button at the top of this page, or call us at 866.986.7497.

 

References:

            The War on Sitting (9/2/2014). Retrieved from Time.com: http://time.com/sitting/

Posture, the Lumbar Spine and Back Pain (n.d.). Retrieved from International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation: http://cirrie.buffalo.edu/encyclopedia/en/article/190/

Sitting for too long can kill you, even if you exercise: study (1/19/2015). Retrieved from CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/sitting-for-too-long-can-kill-you-even-if-you-exercise-study-1.2918678

Exercise is Not Enough for Sedentary Workers (3/23/2012). Retrieved from Science Daily:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120323093804.htm?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=exercise-is-not-enough-for-sedentary-workers