When you think about our daily routines, we actually sit more than we stand for many people. We wake up in the morning and we sit to read the newspaper and drink our coffee. We leave for work and we sit in our cars or public transit each way. Once we get to work, most of us sit at a desk for hours at a time, sit to eat our lunches, and then return to work to sit for several more hours. We arrive home to sit and eat our dinner. Following dinner we either get back on the computer or just watch TV until time to go to sleep. On any given day we could sit for 13-14 hours out of the 24 hours we are given.
According a British Medical Journal study, if you sit for less than 3 hours per day, you could extend your lifespan by up to 2 years. Our health is clearly affected by the amount of hours we sit and that could drive up our healthcare costs. The obvious problems are obesity, weakness of muscles,and nerve impingement. The not so obvious are less blood flow, joint stiffness, back pain, neck pain, lower oxygen intake, and problems with your digestive system. Sitting compresses the spine. Even if your office is ergonomically correct, you can still suffer from chronic illnesses.
In the seated position, your torso is compressed causing pressure on your digestive system making it difficult to digest your food properly and intestines to work properly. This can lead to indigestion and bladder pain. Your chest will typically round in as we work on computers ro write on the desk. This will reduce your ability to fully expand your lungs. Over time, your body will maintain this position even when standing and your stamina will suffer. Your head will lean forward putting pressure in the mid back increasing your risk of headaches and even ringing in your ears. Finally sitting can shorten the front of your thighs, quads, and increase your risk of low back pain or even knee pain.
How can you reverse the risks? Obviously, stand up more any time you can. When on the phone, stand up and talk. If you are in a meeting, if possible stand up. When going to lunch, walk instead of riding, if possible.When you do have to sit, be conscious of how you sit. Keep your back straight and don’t slouch in the chair. Make sure your feet can touch the floor and pull your chair closer to your desk so your body will be straighter.
Finally, learn how to stretch your body to reverse the posture you have held all day. While sitting at your desk, start by stretching your neck up. Place both hands under your chin and look up. Give yourself a nice little stretch for 2 seconds and release. Repeat the stretch 10 times and do them 3 times per day. Use a door way and stretch your chest to take the pressure off your mid back. Remember to hold the stretch for 2 seconds and repeat 10 times. In the evening you can stretch out your upper quads, the front of your thighs, to take pressure off your low back. This stretch can be done by lying on the floor or your bed. Lay on your side and pull your lower knee up toward your chest. Grab the ankle of the upper leg and pull your heel back to your hip. You should be able to touch your hip. If not, practice this until you can. Hold for 2 seconds and repeat 10 times. Lastly, with the heel of your upper leg against your hip, kick your knee back and you will feel the stretch in the upper thigh. Hold 2 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Doing these few things can help relieve your common aches and pains from sitting and allow you to do the activities you enjoy most. I would suggest you do the neck and chest stretches daily. Do the thigh stretches every other day. It may take a little time now, but it can save you a lot of pain later.
Butch Phelps is a leader in the field of muscles. He has studied the engineering of muscles of the human body for the last 10 years. Butch has spent hours watching how people walk, stand, sit, and hold their posture to see the pattern for chronic pain. Our daily routines will determine what aches and pain we will suffer with later in our lives. To contact Butch or The Muscle Repair Shop, email him at http://www.musclerepairshop.com or call 941-922-2929.
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