18 Oct Is Sitting the New Smoking?
Even before Covid 19 came along, the average adult would spend between 8 and 9 hours of their day sitting. If on average, you get up around 7am and go to bed around 11pm then that means more than half of your waking hours are spent on your rear end. It is a growing concern as technology means we are sitting more and more at computers – particularly with more people than ever now working from home.
Many parents are already trying to limit screen time for their children as the problem gets worse. “Tech neck” is a coined phrase for when we look down at our phones for long periods of time causing us to put strain on our neck. The average human head is the weight of a bowling ball or a pumpkin – this weight increases when the head is in a forward position as it is when we look down at a screen. Imagine then, the pressure that we are putting on the neck when looking down at a phone for prolonged periods of time or when we sit with a poor posture?
Prolonged sitting causes all kinds of problems for the spine as we were not designed to be immobile. We used to be hunter-gatherers constantly on the move, working on the land, hunting for food whereas the environment we have created for ourselves has made this lifestyle almost impossible in the modern world. Your nervous system, which controls every single function of your body works best when receiving feedback when you move. Every single movement you make is controlled by your nervous system, which constantly sends messages to your brain. Lack of movement causes your nervous system to slow down which means messages are not getting to your brain as quickly causing you to feel fatigued. Lack of movement also weakens your muscular skeletal system, which increases the risks for osteoporosis & fractures
Our bodies are designed to move and our brains need constant feedback on from our body on where we are in space or where it is from a positional point of view. We call this “body awareness” proprioception. When we move we are giving our brain lots of great input and information which provides stimulation which helps us to stay alert. Guess what? When you sit for a long period of time you reduce this input to a fraction.
We also develop static positions often bent forward or slightly flexed when we are designed to be upright. This then causes the muscles to get fatigued or tired and some can overwork resulting in tension. The muscles at the top of the shoulders and back of the neck are particularly prone to this and it can lead to a tension or cervico-genic headache.
When we sit, many of us tend to not support ourselves adequately and slouch as our core muscles switch off. Sitting also increases the load on the lumbar or low back discs much more than when we are standing.
So, this lack of movement and increased pressure can lead to impaired function, and movement in the spinal segments, which can affect the nerve function again resulting in inaccurate messages being sent to the brain. Chiropractors call this a vertebral subluxation. Coupled with the increased pressure on the discs which can lead to wear and tear of the discs and bulges it is not uncommon to see that many sedentary people who sit all day have low back pain and why we are seeing a surge in people with low back and neck pain as a result of increased working from home patterns.
At N8 Health, we are passionate about empowering people to take control of their health by being proactive. If you are concerned about the amount of time you are spending sitting down, why not call us to arrange an initial consultation if you have not seen a Chiropractor before or for a check-up if you have already seen us for Chiropractic care.