You’ve heard it said that “Sitting is the new smoking”, but why is that? The truth is that sedentary desk jobs are directly related to a host of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and chronic pain. We can prevent back pain and other chronic pain conditions by understanding one important fact about anatomy: our bodies were designed to move. Sitting at a desk for 8 hours then going home and sitting or lying down is unnatural. Our posture suffers because we are not using our bodies properly.
Not only does this lack of activity increase the risk for heart disease (by not getting enough movement and exercise), but it will also affect metabolism and promote diabetes. While you can help alleviate this by having healthy activities every day such as walking or going to the gym, it is important to keep moving throughout the day. Let us show you how to prevent back pain and other conditions by making a couple easy changes.
Why Does Sitting Cause Problems?
When we sit in a stationary position, our bodies actually tighten and lock up. This is the same reason why we stretch when we get out of bed in the morning. Our muscles, tendons, and ligaments grow accustomed to a position and this can cause imbalances in our bodies.
For example, when we sit at a desk we shorten our hamstrings and tighten our hip flexors. If you do this for 8 hours each day, 5 days a week, then the muscles will become tight and change the way you walk, run, lay down, and even sit. When this same “locked up” position occurs in our joints it is called Arthritis. When this issue occurs in the spine, our vertebral discs wear and tear until we eventually have disc bulges, herniations, and narrowing. When you hear a family member complain that they are always “stiff and sore”, this loss of vertebral disc is commonly to blame.
But the low back is only part of the problem. Having technology so integrated into our jobs means our neck posture is suffering. It is very common to see people lose the curvature of their neck simply due to their posture. Carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain, and even headaches come from this “forward head posture” that persists in an office environment. Neck pain is an immediate concern, but the real insidious threat is early-onset arthritis and disc bulges in the neck.
At our Overland Park chiropractic office, we see a ton of arthritis and most of the time it is caused by these long-term positions. It is normal to develop some amount of arthritis over our lives, but the sedentary lifestyle speeds up the process to the point where we see people in their 30’s developing arthritis.
How to Fix and Prevent Back Pain
Ideally, the answer is simply this: Move.
Now, that may not be possible for some jobs where you must be at a desk all day, but movement will still help prevent back pain. Getting up for at least 5 minutes every hour is necessary. It can be for something as simple as getting a drink of water or going to the bathroom. The important thing is to take this time to let your body be in a different position. Dehydration is another factor. As mentioned earlier, our vertebral discs dehydrate over our lives, but drinking plenty of water can help slow that process. As a guideline, take your body weight in pounds and divide that number in half–that is how many ounces of water you should be drinking throughout the day.
You can also do exercises at your desk throughout the day. Here is a routine that I tell my patients about that only takes 5 minutes to complete. This routine also helps prevent other issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Certain classes can also teach chair yoga routines. Keep in mind that these exercises are ideal if you currently do not have any pain or discomfort. If you have pain or discomfort when you are at your desk, talk to your doctor about conservative treatment and solutions.
What if I Already Have Pain?
Here is the good news if you already have pain—you can take actions to reverse the process and make a couple small changes for prevention. It is possible to prevent back pain even if you work in an office. The bad news is the longer you have had the pain or the longer you ignore it, the worse it will get and the more difficult and costly it will be to treat. Making healthy changes now such as exercising and sitting with good posture are the simple solutions that may apply to your condition. However, having a wellness-oriented doctor on your team ensures that nothing is overlooked. A wellness-oriented doctor will focus on a non-invasive treatment (this means no surgery or medications unless it is necessary) to save you money and side-effects.
The best way to treat these problems is with conservative care such a physical therapy, corrective exercise, and chiropractic care. When the pain is cause by the spine (back pain, neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder pain, sciatica, and numbness or tingling in the hands/feet) then being screened by a chiropractor will uncover the cause of your pain. Chiropractors have established a reputation for treating spinal problems and for good reason: they get results.
At our Overland Park chiropractic office, we use specific techniques for our patients. We focus on gentle treatments that are specific and individualized to your spine. We then use needle-less acupuncture to speed up the healing process for faster results. Treating the office worker is our specialty.
We are taking new patients and offering free consultations, and that way we find out if you are someone we can help before going any further. Call us today for a free consultation at (913)-953-5959 or CLICK HERE for more information about our Overland Park chiropractic office.
Dr. Tyler J Nigus DC – Overland Park Chiropractor