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Posted by  in Back Pain

Do you know that sitting too much is sometimes known as a sitting disease?

According to a report published in USA Today, this sitting disease can increase the risk of disability in people aged over 60. A new study showed that “adults this age spend an average of two-thirds of their waking time being sedentary – roughly nine hours a day. Every additional hour adults over age 60 spend sitting increases by 50% their risk of being disabled for activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing and walking”.

Now sitting too much is not just a syndrome for the elderly. In today’s world, a lot of us sit too much – driving to the office, at the office, and then driving home and at home! In the trains, commuters have been known to vie for seats even after spending many hours sitting in the office!

We don’t have to wait until we are 60 years old. Sitting too much has already caused some of us to have back pain even before that. It is the posture we adopt plus the long hours spent in this posture that can lead to back pain.

Our spine consists of 3 normal curves and the curve at the lower part of the spine inwards or lordotic.  As you can see in the picture, the sitting posture puts the lower spine into a rounded back rather than a lordotic curve.

The rounded back is not necessarily bad. It is being in such a position for too long that can lead to back pain. This posture places unequal stress on the spine – the front of the spine is compressed while the back is being overly strained.

Studies have shown the pressure on the discs (the spongy cushion between the vertebra of the spine) is higher in sitting compared to standing. The pressure is even higher when sitting with a round back – 40% more than standing.  This higher pressure can lead to early degeneration of the discs that increases the risk of having a slipped or herniated disc. And if a slipped disc impinges on the nerve, that is when we experience it lower back pain.

In the same report published by USA Today, it is suggested if you have been sitting for an hour, you have been sitting too long. It is recommended you get up for 10 minutes for every hour you sit.

So here are some suggestions to minimise the risk of back pain due to prolonged sitting.

– Answer your phone standing or walking around your office instead of sitting

– Arrange your desk or work area to allow you to work while standing

– Walk around at your home during TV commercial breaks

– Stand during your daily commute on the trains

– Stand up and have a water break every hour. Drinking plenty of water is also good for you.

Written by LayYong


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