Sitting all day has become normal. Previously this was something that was reserved for office workers. However, as technology continues to advance, more and more people are undertaking sedentary jobs. At least 50% of Australians sit all day at work and as many as 81% sit for some of the days.
As sitting can have a negative effect on your posture as well as your back and shoulder muscles, it’s important to understand the effects and what you can do about them.
Understanding the Spine
Your spine is a complex and cleverly designed structure. It’s made up of vertebrae with rubber-like discs between each one; This allows you to flex in all directions while maintaining the strength your body needs to support itself.
When you sit the discs naturally move downward due to gravity. However, when standing the back has to support the weight of your body and therefore there is limited downward movement. As you sit the weight is on your bottom, allowing the vertebrae to sink down onto each other.
In short, you’re compressing the spine and increasing the likelihood of developing herniated discs.
A side effect of this is that the muscles in your back and shoulders no longer need to work to support your back and posture.
The more you sit the weaker these muscles will become. Unfortunately, weaker shoulder and back muscles lead to a weaker spine and an increased chance of injury. It’s a vicious circle.
That’s why, if you are noticing pain in your back and weakness in your shoulders, you should visit the shoulder specialists Sydney and have them assess the issue.
It’s worth noting that sitting all the time also tightens the hip flexors and can even slow the flow of blood to the glutes, weakening the spine further.
The fact is most people in sitting jobs can’t suddenly quit for a more active job. Instead, you need to take remedial steps.
A key element of shoulder and back weakness is due to the fact most people don’t sit properly when working. It’s essential that your chair be set so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are the same height as your hips. Keep your back at the back of the chair and use lumbar support.
If possible, you can invest in a standing desk that will allow you to stand for some of the days, boosting blood flow and back and shoulder strength.
If you’re sitting all day then you need to get up and move around at least once every hour. Ideally, take a five-minute break and walk around your office or up and down the stairs.
As well as moving every hour you need to start exercising. It doesn’t have to be hours booked into your local gym. Instead, try to do twenty minutes of something you enjoy every day. As long as it elevates your heart rate you’ll be helping your whole body, including your back and shoulder muscles.