What Too Much Sitting Does to Your Body


There are more and more people researching the effects of back pain and translating that scientific jargon and data into understandable articles for the reast of use.

This is a very good and concise read about the problems that too much sitting can cause in the body.

It mentions the problems that may build up over time as well as the near immediate effects of trying to get out of a flexed position that’s been held for several hours.

Long story short: Don’t get too tied up with what you’re doing at the desk and not move around every 30 minutes or so. You’ll feel better and maybe get even more work accomplished.

Sitting is such a paradox. After a long day, you relish the opportunity to plop down on the couch and settle in for the evening. But cozy up in that same position (more likely on a poorly designed office chair than a plush sofa) all day long and you suffer a stiff neck, tight shoulders, and back pain. What gives?

“Any position we hold for any length of time will eventually turn to pain because the body is not primed to do that,” said Joan Vernikos, former NASA scientist.

When you sit all day, you know what your glutes and calves are doing? Pretty much nothing — except slowly wasting away. This could make for a sore, wobbly walk home, when your legs finally start holding you up again.

“It’s not the number of hours sat that’s important, it’s how many uninterrupted hours of sitting that matters,” said Vernikos. …she found that standing up every half hour was enough to prevent the harmful effects of an otherwise immobile lifestyle.

“If you sit in one position long enough and you don’t move, the muscle contracts. As it contracts, it pulls the nerves it’s in contact with, so you go into a sort of spasm,” said Vernikos.

One big culprit of the pain from a compressed spine is the damage done to the cushioning between the discs. “The muscles have weakened and the vertebrae start collapsing, squeezing the padding and nerves between the discs. This is a huge source of pain,” Vernikos added.

Here’s the good news: Studies conducted by Vernikos and other researchers have discovered that adjusting your position every 15-30 minutes prevents changes to your lumbar discs. So go ahead and get a fresh coffee, gossip with a colleague, gaze out the window — do anything other than sitting a few times an hour, and you won’t feel so much pain later on.

“You don’t need to be running on a treadmill to condition yourself, you can tune your body to on-off movement throughout the day.”

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Physical Therapist

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