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How to sit

Although we know sitting is a massive cause of back pain in most people, it’s unavoidable. Sitting weakens your muscles (especially those that support posture and are used to walk) and stiffens joints, leading to a hunched posture and increased risk for back and joint pain.

So here follows a few pointers on how to sit to try and avoid back pain where we tend to spend most time sitting.

AT WORK

  • Position your computer screen so the top is slightly above eyelevel.
  • Use a keyboard shelf with a wrist rest
  • Angle the shelf slightly downward
  • Recline the chair back so there’s a 135 degree angle between your torso and thighs
  • Keep your back against the chair

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IN THE CAR

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  • Recline your seat to 110 degrees
  • Keep your hands low- at 9 and 3 for extra control, or near 6 on the open road
  • If your car seat provides little back support, roll up a towel or pillow and place it between your lower back and the seat for some more support. There are many specialized cushions and pillows available for purchase that can help with sciatica pain, or provide support for the neck, lumbar spine, bottom, and full body.
  • Don’t sit on your wallet, cell phone or anything else that may throw your spine out of whack.
  • Reduce reaching for the steering wheel, which places more stress on the lumbar spine, neck, shoulder and wrists. Instead, sit as close to the steering wheel as possible without compromising your safety.
  • Get out of your car to stretch and work the hamstrings. You should stretch your hamstrings twice a day when dealing with low back pain.

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ON THE COUCH

  • Rest your feet on an ottoman to put less strain on your heart
  • If your TV is mounted high on the wall, support your neck with a pillow
  • Couches are also usually too deep – meaning that they are designed for people with very long legs! If you’re shorter, one tip that can help with this is to a small pillow behind your lower back

There’s a massive number of our patients who receives treatment for lower back pain as a result of sitting at work, and living a sedentary lifestyle.  Here’s a quick timeline as to what happens when you’re sitting:

As soon as you sit:

  • Electric activity in the leg muscles shuts off
  • Calorie burning drops to 1 per minute
  • Enzymes that help break down fat drop 90%
  • After 2 hours: Good cholesterol drops 20%
  • After 24 hours: Insulin effectiveness drops 24% and risk of diabetes rises

The following was found in an article by business week- When you sit, the muscles are relaxed, and enzyme activity drops by 90% to 95%, leaving fat to camp out in the bloodstream. Within a couple hours of sitting, healthy cholesterol plummets by 20%.  And according to the New York Times that quotes and paraphrases Marc Hamilton from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center:

This is your body on chairs: Electrical activity in the muscles drops — “the muscles go as silent as those of a dead horse,” Hamilton says — leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects. Your calorie-burning rate immediately plunges to about one per minute, a third of what it would be if you got up and walked. Insulin effectiveness drops within a single day, and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises. So does the risk of being obese. The enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides — for “vacuuming up fat out of the bloodstream,” as Hamilton puts it — plunge, which in turn causes the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol to fall.

Don’t hesitate to give us a call or book your appointment online if you experience lower back pain.   You don’t have to suffer…why choose to live with back pain?