Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: August 9, 2021
If you work in an office, there’s a good chance that you spend the majority of your workday in a seated position. Also, if you’re like most Americans who drive to and from work and then relax on the couch at some point in the evening, you may end up spending the majority of your waking hours in a seated position. That may not feel all that strenuous on your spine, but staying in a seated position for an extended period can do a lot of damage to your back over the years. In today’s blog, we share some tips for mitigating and reversing damage caused by years of prolonged sitting.
Sitting And Your Spine
Staying seated for an extended period can affect your spine in a number of ways. For starters, when you’re in the same position for a long time, pressure is continually placed on the same location. In this instance, it’s your lumbar spine. Even if it may not seem all that stressful at the moment, over time, all this stress can lead to back problems. Prolonged stress in a certain area of your spine can lead to:
- Spinal disc degeneration
- Spinal muscle atrophy
- Decreased blood flow
- Shifting spinal disc/nerve impingement
- Spinal inflammation
- Accelerated spinal arthritis
Protecting Your Spine If You Sit A Lot
So how can you go about protecting your spine if you do a lot of sitting at your job or throughout the day? Here are a number of small changes that you can strive for that should help prevent common sitting-related back problems:
- Move When You Can – Make it a point to get up, walk around or just stand on your feet for a couple minutes every 30-60 minutes. Take that phone call standing up, run those reports over to the marketing department, or better yet, consider investing in a sit-to-stand workstation. Find ways to make time to stand and move throughout the day.
- Be Active Outside Of Work – Find other ways to relax after work other than by watching television or reading a book. Consider some active options that get your body moving. This will help to increase blood flow and improve supportive spinal muscles and tissues so that your back can better handle stress in a seated position.
- Exercise – Exercise is one of the best things you can do outside of work to help improve your spine health. Exercise will challenge your spine, increase muscle strength and improve stability as tissues and structures become better able to handle stress. Finding time to exercise 4-5 times a week will help your spine avoid injury during extended seated periods.
- Posture Control – Not all seated positions are created the same. If you’re hunched forward or slouching in your chair, that’s going to put even more stress on your lumbar or cervical spine. Make sure you’re sitting upright with your head positioned directly above your shoulders, and that will help ensure stress is displaced evenly across your back and body, which will help to avoid overstressing certain areas.
- Supportive Seat – Finally, make sure wherever you’re choosing to sit is supportive for your spine. Firm wooden chairs or overstuffed sofas won’t provide the right kind of lumbar support, so strive for a comfortable but supportive location.
If you can keep all of these things in mind, we’re confident that you’ll be able to protect your spine from the stress that extended sitting can cause. And for help with any aspect of your spine health, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at the Midwest Spine & Brain Institute.