We all know sitting is bad for us. Excessive time spent sedentary can decrease our endurance for day to day activities and expand our waistlines. Outside of the most commonly known reason that sitting is bad for you, sitting can have other effects that may cause long term damage if not addressed. Fortunately, physical therapy can help to undo the damage of sitting.
Often times, a sedentary job also equates with a job that requires a significant amount of computer work. Sitting with the shoulders rounded and the head in a forward position can lead to a myriad of problems including headaches, neck pain, and back pain. In order to undo the damage of sitting long periods at a computer, start with posture. Ensure that your workspace is set up ergonomically with the screen at eye level, your feet able to rest on the floor or a stool underneath your feet, and a supportive back on your chair. Try to keep your chin up and your shoulders back as you work.
After the damage has been done and you have already begun to feel the effects of poor posture while sitting, it is important to work towards reversing the damage. A physiotherapist can recommend stretches to loosen up the muscles of the neck and chest and strengthen the deep neck flexors.
It may seem hard to believe that you can hurt your legs while not using them but sitting can cause significant damage to your legs. Sitting for long periods of time can cause tight hamstrings and decreased muscle strength. Hamstring tightness and decreased leg strength can contribute to lower back pain and hip pain.
A great stretch for hamstrings is to place the leg to be stretched on an object 6-8 inches off the ground in front of you. Gently lean forward at the hips careful not to just round the back until a gentle stretch is felt. Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat 3-5 times.
The most important thing you can do to reduce the damage of sitting is to simply sit less and move more. Taking frequent breaks to stand and walk around can help reduce some of the negative effects of sitting. Standing desks are gaining popularity as an alternative to breaking a sedentary lifestyle. If sitting at a desk is unavoidable, getting some extra steps in throughout the day in simple ways can help reduce the damage of sitting. Strap on a pedometer or digital activity tracker and track your progress as you take the stairs, park at the back of the lot, and take the long way for trips around the office.
When you are experiencing the negative effects of sitting, it is important to not let the problem get out of control. Physical therapy can help reduce these symptoms and help you develop ways to avoid damage caused by a sedentary job. Call Bourassa and Associates Rehabilitation Centre to get started right away.