SITTING COULD BE KILLING YOU SLOWLY!!!
I see the adverse side effects of poor posture in my practice everyday. These negative effects extend far beyond a stiff neck and back, but have more systemic and dangerous implications. If you look at the major killers in Western culture, (heart disease, stroke, cancer, etc) all of these are perpetuated by our sedentary lifestyles. Allow me to elaborate.
- Decreased Brain Function: The brain requires a tremendous amount of oxygen to thrive. When the body is in motion, blood is being pumped to the brain and chemical processes can take place. When we are sedentary, blood flow to the brain decrease and so does brain function. If you suffer from mid-afternoon brain fog, then put down the coffee and go take some laps around your work place.
- Heart Disease: Muscles burn less fat and blood flows more sluggishly during a long sit, allowing fatty acids to more easily clog the heart. Prolonged sitting has been linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, and people with the most sedentary time are more than twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease than those with the least.
- Pancreas: The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that carries glucose to cells for energy. But cells in idle muscles don't respond as readily to insulin, so the pancreas produces more and more, which can lead to diabetes and other diseases. A 2011 study found a decline in insulin response after just one day of prolonged sitting.
- Colon: Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for colon, breast and endometrial cancers. The reason is unclear, but one theory is that excess insulin encourages cell growth. Another is that regular movement boosts natural antioxidants that kill cell-damaging
— and potentially cancer-causing — free radicals
- Musculoskeletal Disorders: Now time for my expertise.
- Neck pain: When you sit typing at a computer all day, your head naturally will begin to move forward. This causes a tremendous amount of stress on the cervical vertebrae. Every inch of forward head translation is the equivalent of 10lbs of tensions on the joints of the neck. If this is done day in and day out for years, it can lead to degeneration of the cervical disc and joints.
- Upper Cross Syndrome: This is a fancy term for the muscle imbalance that occurs in the neck and shoulders from sitting all day. Just like your head, when you sit all day your shoulders also roll forward. This causes tight muscles in the chest and neck. Likewise, the trapezius muscles, or shoulders, get very tight. Imagine if you flexed your biceps all day. Well, after 10 minutes they would be really sore. The same thing is happening to your neck and shoulders when you sit all day. As the muscles are continually contracted, lactic acid builds up forming painful trigger points.
- Thoracic Kyphosis "Hunch Back": As we age, our intervertebral disc begin to dehydrate and shrink. This leads to a decrease in height and can cause a hunch back that we commonly see in a lot of elderly people. However, sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause this posture in much younger populations. When are thoracic spine is in an over "flexed" position it will lead to neck problems. It will also alter the biomechanics of the shoulder, predisposing you to shoulder injuries.
- Low Back Pain: There is no way around it. sitting is terrible for your low back. Studies have shown that sitting places a tremendous amount of stress on the low back. Over time, this can lead to degenerative disc disease and possibly disc herniation.
I could go on at length, but I think you get the point. So what are we supposed to do? Our culture revolves around technology. Now, I love technology as much as the next person, but I don't think we should have to sacrifice our health in the process.
Here are a few simple action steps that you can take to avoid being another victim of a sedentary lifestyle.
- Regular visits to your chiropractor: Chiropractors are trained in musculoskeletal conditions and can help keep your spine healthy and moving properly.
- Exercise and stretch daily: We all are aware of the many health benefits of exercise. Just one more reason to do it. Keeping your muscles strong and flexible will help to counteract many of the side effects of sitting.
- Practices Good Posture: The majority of us do sit at school or our jobs, so if you do have to sit for a prolonged period of time, then practice good posture. Sit up straight with your head back. Relax your shoulders and keep your arms to your side. Use a lumbar support to keep the normal curve in your low back. Take periodic breaks to get up and stretch.
If you have any more questions, please contact me.
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Thanks for reading.
Brian C.Burnett, D.C., M.S.
Brian Burnett Chiropractic, PL
1108 Hays St. Tallahassee, FL