It seems that the longer I’m in practise, the more I appreciate the negative impact prolonged sitting can have on the body. I had this discussion with a patient at our clinic the other day (at Burlington Sports Therapy) and we agreed that prolonged sitting can affect many different areas of the body.
Back Pain Burlington
Our spinal discs are somewhat soft. When we sit for long periods, the discs can squish down. Once we “unload” the compression of the discs by not sitting (such as lying flat or walking around) they can retain their shape. This is often referred to as tissue creep. Think of your spine as a sponge. If you squish a sponge for a short period, it will likely retain its shape after squishing it in a very short period of time. In comparison, if you leave a brick on a sponge for a week it might take a long time for the sponge to retain its shape once the brick is removed. You can compare that to the effects of prolonged sitting on the lower back. If you have lower back pain and your job requires you to sit for long periods, try to get up often and change positions. Ideally, you would be able to stand every 30 minutes and vary your positions between standing, sitting, walking and lying.
Neck Pain Burlington
At Burlington Sports Therapy, we often see patients who experience neck pain after sitting at their computer for long periods. Although there are many variables, a common problem is that the head is leaning too far forward with respect to the shoulders. Eventually, the neck gets sore in the area between the neck and the shoulders as well as around the scapula or “shoulder blades”. Headaches can also become part of the postural syndrome package. Why does this occur? Imagine holding a ten pound dumbbell out in front of you. Not that difficult necessarily, but if you were to hold that dumbbell over an eight hour workday (for as long as you stare at your computer) you’re likely to get a painful arm. The neck is no different.
The solution? Watch your posture and take lots of breaks at work. As a rule, your ear should line up with your shoulder. If your ears are leaning forward past your shoulder, you’re likely asking too much of your neck muscles. Perhaps keep an ice pack in the workplace freezer so that you can ice any aggravated joints or muscles (10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, 10 minutes on etc.).
So what to do if your job requires you to sit for long periods? Quit your job! (Kidding). As mentioned above, mix up your position as often as possible and try to sit with a proper lumbar lordosis and your head not leaning past your shoulders. If you do this and you still experience frequent pain, it might be wise to consult a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner! At Burlington Sports Therapy we offer Chiropractic, Physiotherapy, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture and Athletic Therapy. Each of these practitioners have the ability to assist patients with lower back pain and neck pain…it’s what we do!