Sitting 9-5… What a way to make a living

Sitting 9-5… What a way to make a living

The average person spends 50-70% of their time sitting

Whatever you do during an average day you probably spend a fair amount of your time sitting.
Sitting at work, sitting at a computer, sitting in a car, sitting down to eat, sitting down in front of the TV after a long day to unwind.

Even if you get yourself down the gym a couple of times a week or you’re a bit of a weekend warrior, a few hours of intense exercise a week is not going to counteract the effects of the many hours we spend sitting.

What happens to your body when you sit for too long?

– Posture
Most of us don’t sit properly, we tend to slouch and your body is very adaptable, so when you repeat poor posture your bodies structure changes and adapts to it, which can lead to misalignment and pain.

Common bad postures include:

  • Forward head posture
    Muscles at the back of your neck tighten to support the extra pressure on your cervical spine caused by your head being carried on the front of your body.
    This can lead to chronic neck tension, pain and headaches.
  • Hunchback / Rounded shoulders
    The chest muscles tighten leading to an excessive curve of the thoracic (upper back) spine and internal rotation of the shoulders.
    The muscles of the upper back (rhomboids especially), whose job it is to hold your shoulders back loosen and weaken.
    This can lead to pain between the shoulder blades and neck pain.
  • Anterior pelvic tilt
    Extending periods of sitting tightens the hip flexors and weakens the gluteus maximus.
    This can lead to low back pain and stiffness.

– Back pain
Prolonged sitting puts pressure on your low back and the surrounding muscles and joints, which can lead to pain and stiffness.

– Slower metabolism and weight gain
Decreased muscle contractions slows the clearance of fat from the blood stream and decreases the effect of insulin. Sitting all day reduces your daily energy expenditure because the major muscles groups in your body aren’t being used, some studies suggest that you burn an extra 30-50 calories more an hour when you stand instead of sit, while that might not seem like a lot, over a day, a week, a month, a year – it soon adds up.

What can you do?

– Desk Stretches

Desk Stretches

– Stand up when you’re on the phone
Even if you have to sit back down to access your computer

– Have organised breaks throughout the day
Get up and move: 1 minute for every 30 spent sitting

– Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity a day
Do something you enjoy, doesn’t have to be the gym if you hate the gym

– Walk more
Park the car in a space further away from the entrance
Get off the bus a stop earlier
Take the stairs
Free Apps are available for smart phone users that track your steps per day, try to beat your steps each day

– Incorporate movement into your daily activities
Get up and move around during TV advert breaks
Waiting for the kettle to boil – move/stretch
Move things you use on a regular basis, the bin, filing cabinet etc further away from your desk so you have to get up to use them
Walk over to talk to colleagues rather than sending emails
Peddle your feet when sitting – roll onto the balls of your feet and back onto your heels

– Organise your desk for optimum posture
Computer screen at eye level
Right sized chair so feet at flat on the floor and knees are at right angles

– Get a regular massage
Massage can help with the pain caused by constant sitting and help you to get moving again

Jemma Fordham is a clinical massage therapist who specialises in the treatment of chronic pain conditions based in Brighton. She works with her clients to help facilitate their bodies own healing through bodywork, exercise and education.

If you would like more information or need to book an appointment please call 07843 666 806 or use this form.


Posted in Pain, Posture.

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