The Hidden Dangers Of Sitting
Our bodies are truly remarkable, they are capable of some awe inspiring feats. They can withstand brutal environmental pressures, and exhibit rugged durability. Using these tough bodies, and our even more impressive minds, we have built an amazing technologically advanced society, containing just about every convenience at our fingertips. But in this new age of abundance, unique health challenges are revealing themselves. Increases in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease can all be directly correlated to this new age we live in.
We all get tired at the end of a hard day at work, but what’s unique to our times is that, unlike our ancestors, that tiredness is not the result of exercise. In fact, most of it was probably spent sitting in a chair. Much like how our new modern lifestyle is the prime driver behind our recent obesity epidemic, it also may be driving more hidden dangers as well.
With people living an ever increasingly sedentary lifestyle, risks of developing diseases and other health conditions also increase, ranging from the mild (bad posture, neck sprain) to the moderate (chronic back pain) to the severe (conditions relating to the spine and joints, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer). In short, while rest and relaxation are necessary for good health, but too much hurts.
Already, numerous studies are revealing health risks of leading a sedentary lifestyle. In one such study, (Schmid, D., Leitzmann, M.F., Television Viewing and Time Spent Sedentary in Relation to Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2014) the relationship between features of a sedentary lifestyle (length of TV viewing, and length of time spent sitting - both recreational and occupational) and the risk of developing different types of cancers was explored. It included a meta-analysis of over 40 observational studies involving more than 4 million subjects and nearly 70,000 cases of cancer. The researchers found that there was "significantly higher risk" in individuals who spent more time being sedentary of developing cancers of the colon, lungs and endometrial lining. Furthermore, the risks increased for every two-hour increase in the time spent sitting.
Based on these studies, we can safely conclude that spending more time sitting could lead to health problems later on, some of which are far more worrisome than simple muscle cramps, pins and needles on the hands and feet, or an appearance of love handles along the mid-section. Sitting too much, and for too long, can be dangerous.
SITTING: A GUIDE
Each day, millions of people wake up, go through a long commute, and spend hours in front of their desks sitting on a chair. Desk jobs are so common and so familiar that most people hardly think of the consequences of being inactive or of the problems leading largely sedentary lives can bring. While sitting we should approach with our health in mind. There are many “do nots” that any sitter should be aware of and try to avoid during the day.
What You Shouldn’t Be Doing:
- Sitting on a Tilted Chair.
The chair seat should be level and parallel to the floor. If one portion is slightly higher than the other, more weight is placed on one side of the hips and buttocks, and the pelvis should be kept at a tilted position. A titled chair can cause undue strain on the muscles in the hips and the buttocks.
- Sitting While Hunched Forward.
Sitting in the hunched position may lead to strain on your shoulders, neck, collarbone, spine and pelvis. By correcting your posture and making the proper adjustments to furniture to adjust the height of the chair and desk before you sit is a proactive approach that can really help stave off injury.
- Slouching Back in Your Chair.
When you slouch on a chair, your spine curves inward and your position straightens the otherwise natural S-shaped curve of your lower back. Your chin will be closer to your chest, slightly narrowing your air passageway at the throat. Although slouching can be comfortable for the first few minutes, it is a position you should never assume for long periods.
- Sitting with Your Neck Thrust Forward.
Your neck supports your head and is connected to your spine. If you sit or even stand with your neck forced in a forward position, the cartilages between the bones of the neck and spine will be stretched uncomfortably, causing strain. Keep your neck in line with your spine and your back straight instead.
By being proactive and avoiding the “wrong” ways of sitting a person can greatly reduce the chances of injury due to their more sedentary lifestyle. But, as opposed to avoiding what we shouldn’t be doing, is there are right way to sit?
What You Should Be Doing: The Right Way to Keep Your Spine Healthy
We all sit a lot. So, sitting is simple, right? Like most things, there is a right and wrong way to do it. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to properly sit on a chair, bench, or any surface that will help you reduce your risk of injury and help you maintain a healthy spine:
- Sit directly in the middle of your chair. Keep your back straight, your neck high, and your hips and shoulders level and relaxed. Feet must be flat on the floor and slightly parallel to each other.
- To sit, bend your knees, move your upper body forward at the hips, with your head slightly bowed so your head, neck and torso form a slightly diagonal line. Using the strength of your knees, lower your buttocks onto the seat. Distribute your body weight evenly by keeping your hips level with each other.
- Maintain a straight back and level shoulders with your stomach tucked in. Your head should sit high yet relaxed on your neck. Do not sit with your chin too close to your chest because this will stretch your upper spine and the back of your neck unnecessarily.
- Do sit to the point of being uncomfortable. Although sitting on your chair for several hours may be necessary, it does not mean that you should compromise your health. Keeping your body in a static state for a prolonged period will invite a host of problems, specifically those involving muscles in the torso, hips, thighs, legs and feet.
HOW TO HANDLE A SEMI-SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE
The demands of your job can often dictate your lifestyle, so while it’s all fine in theory to discuss the dangers of sitting what about us folks in the real world? If you often have to spend more time in a chair than out of it, by simply making a few changes during the course of your day you can reap great benefits. Here is a list of proactive activities you can employ during your day to help fight against many negative effects of sitting.
Get in the Habit and Remind Yourself to Sit Properly
Do not slouch, hunch or extend your neck. Remember to actively implement the sitting guide above. Even if you have bad posture now, it is never too late to make changes, even incremental ones will help. Sit up straight, head high but relaxed on your neck and your arms at a comfortable position.
Breathe Deeply and Evenly.
If you sit straight, you are more likely to breathe deeper and inhale more oxygen. If you find yourself too tense, take a few deep breaths before you start work again.
It may have been frowned upon when you were a child but fidgeting could actually help improve blood circulation and increase your alertness. Plus, it also helps burn more calories because you will keep moving. While seated, try drumming your fingers on the table, shifting your weight on the chair from time to time and raising your legs alternately.
Stretching helps relieve aching muscles and improve circulation in the arms, legs and torso.
Find Any Excuse to Get Up.
There are many opportunities for you to get out of a chair no matter how busy you are. Try standing to make a call, read some emails or while taking a walk to the water cooler. A few minutes spent out of your chair will make a huge difference to your overall health.
In summary, to prevent injuries associated with sitting too long, try to get up out of the chair every 20-30 minutes, stretch, take a walk for a few minutes, do standing exercises with your legs and arms or lift weights. Performing deep breathing exercises for a minute or so is also recommended. Performing physical exercises will help encourage healthy blood circulation, increase heart rate and introduce more oxygen into the body. Taking micro-breaks that last for at least 2 to 3 minutes several times a day will help strengthen muscles along the spine and unburden the lower back, hips and buttocks of your body weight.
But It’s Still Not Enough…
Even when implementing the above strategies, unfortunately many of the dangers of sitting are still prevalent. Further still, our lifestyles are only going to continue along this trend of increasing amount of time spent sitting. This is why our family-owned company Desk Jockey was born. We have become obsessed with this problem, and after an uncountable number hours of study, research, testing, design, and redesign we have developed a line of products devoted to solving it.
Our big breakthrough came with the discovery of our 100% therapeutic grade memory foam, a high quality memory foam recipe that employs a proprietary density to user weight metric, and mold technology. This secret recipe has emerged as a favored standard that you will notice as soon as you unwrap your new Desk Jockey product. Our proprietary secret foam recipe is an unparalleled experience in comfort, that never goes flat, and can be relied on to soothe, mold, and caress itself to your unique body shape.
If you are worried about the dangers of sitting, you can now do something about it right now. By getting the right tools, targeted on the right problem, you can achieve the right outcome. Imagine living pain free without creams… without pills… without surgery!
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a new office chair when you can instantly increase comfort and safety with our office chair seat cushion. If lower back pain is ruining your day, try our lumbar support cushion, and get immediate relief right where it hurts.
Above all is our continuing promise to you. We believe so strongly in each of our products that we back them with our PAIN FREE GUARANTEE. We offer our 100% money back guarantee and AMAZING customer support because we care about your comfort. As we continue on our mission of solving the health problems related to prolonged sitting we will continue to develop new technology and new designs and look forward to serving you.