We are hearing a lot lately about the ill effects of sitting for long hours. It's something that has become a part of our daily lives starting in first grade.
Our bodies are not meant to spend time sitting and not moving. There are changes in our muscles and even our internal systems that result from sitting at our desks, commuting to work and watching TV.
Recently there was an article in the Wall Street Journal about research published in the Journal of Applied Ergonomics. Photos of participants popped up on their computer screens every 20 minutes showing them a picture of themselves with proper posture at an ergonomically-correct work station. They found the risk of musculoskeletal injury was significantly reduced when workers viewed photos of themselves and how they sit.
Even using proper posture and ergonomics at our desks we still are victims of the long-term effects of chair-sitting such as increased pressure on the intervertebral discs—the springy, shock-absorbing part of the spine.
Sitting is also hard on the feet and legs. Gravity tends to pool blood in the legs and feet and create a sluggish return to the heart. Our hamstring muscles in the back of our legs are shortened & our hip flexors are tightened.
Here are some recommendations:
- Try dynamic sitting, and don't stay in one static position for extended periods of time.
- When performing daily tasks, alternate between sitting and standing.
- Adjust height of backrest of your chair to support the natural inward curvature of the lower back. The angle should be set so that your hip-torso angle is 90 degrees or greater.
- Adjust height of chair so feet rest flat on floor (use footrest if necessary).
- Sit upright in the chair with the lower back against the backrest and the shoulders touching the backrest. Thighs should be parallel to the floor and knees at about the same level as the hips.
- Back of knees should not come in direct contact with the edge of the seat pan (there should be 2-3 inches between the edge of the seat and the back of the knee).
I'm offering a class on stretching and strengthening to address these issues at Skin to Soul on Montvale Avenue in Stoneham