Sitting positions the backbone vertically; it affords no relaxation or alleviation from the gravitational forces that compress it. Without a periodic healing reprieve throughout the day (stretching and getting up from your chair), the more relentless this load overwhelms the complete structure, joints, and muscular tissues alike. A few muscles within the lower back structure must constantly contract to hold an erect seated posture. Since this calls for consistent engagement, the muscular tissues end up fatigued. (That is why slumping is more comfortable: It takes much less effort to hold the slumped position) When the muscular tissues tire, you depend on the backrest greater and your muscular tissues much less. The less you depend on your muscular tissues, the weaker and more dysfunctional they become. The greater you depend on the backrest of your chair, the greater you generally tend to slump. The greater you slump, the greater the debilitating C-fashioned curvature becomes. This weakens the muscular tissues of your lower back even further, which causes them to overload the joints they serve.
Sitting in chairs influences even the regions apparently at relaxation (mainly the hips and knees). Because sitting causes the joints to be in a static position for lengthy periods, the muscular tissues that serve them end up constantly in a short, tight position. When you finally get up from your chair and move, the muscular tissues impose greater pressure on those joints that have been static for long periods of time, thereby growing their susceptibility to tearing. The extended stasis prevents the joints from lubricating with nourishing synovial fluid. Once depleted, the hips and knees, just like the backbone, go to the pot and erode. Is it any wonder that all these regions of the body are traumatized through sitting, namely, the decreased mobility and pain in the lower back, hips, and knees? Why is it that so few people have made the connection between extended sitting and the epidemic of persistent pain?
Sitting without using the backrest of your chair or on stability balls rather than chairs is helpful by requiring core engagement to maintain an erect spine and activating abdominal muscles to reduce back fatigue. Standing desks are better than chairs but still promote slumping and upper back fatigue.
The best way to counter the effects of sitting too long is to get up and do some stretches throughout the day. Take walks or pace in your office when you are on phone calls.
And, most beneficial is a consistent yoga practice! Before or after a day of sitting too much, incorporate a yoga practice either at home or in a studio. And the best way is to hire a yoga professional for private lessons to address your specific issues. Find out more on how to work with me privately here.
Written by: Marda Zechiel, RYT 500 and Health Coach