As a chiropractor I believe how we sit should be the single most important health consideration in our lives.
Why ? Because we spend so much of our lives doing it. It is estimated by the Australian Heart Foundation that we sit for anything up to 15 hours per day.
Have a think. How much time do you spend sitting in any given day ? Eating breakfast, sitting at the computer, watching TV, sitting at work, commuting etc.
Because we spend so much time sitting it warrants giving it some serious consideration because the amount we spend sitting as well as how we sit have a massive impact on our health.
Why are long periods sitting so unhealthy ?
When we sit the vast majority of muscles in our body are completely inactive - this is not healthy. Over time this affects many systems in our body. Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns that shorten our lives. They include:
- cardiovascular disease
- increased blood pressure
- high blood sugar and diabetes
- excess body fat particularly around the waist
- abnormal cholesterol levels
Then of course there are the musculoskeletal related problems such as:
- back pain
- neck pain
- posture deterioration
It is once some of these symptoms start to appear that you visit you local health provider for support. I have spent my life treating patients at this point. Patching them up trying to get them out of pain and back to work and on with their lives.
I see this as a kind of merry-go-round putting people back into their environment sitting on poor chairs at badly designed workstations for long hours only inevitably for them to return with more problems. I soon realised that unless I was seriously able to have patients make changes to the way they sit I was never going to make a true impact on the back pain epidemic.
The good news
Our bodies are ingenious. Our bodies are living tissue, constantly changing and adapting to our environments. If we place our body in an unfavourable environment for long periods and it will lay down bone and add fibrous tissue to tendons and muscles so it can deal with the abnormal stress placed upon it. This is very clever and can be very affective in the short term but eventually these compensations fail and cause us problems. This leads to arthritis, degeneration and eventually significant inflammation and pain.
The answer is to keep the body in a favourable environment wherever possible. We can’t do this for 100% of the time but we need to understand what is a good position for our body and what is not. Then we can modify our home and work environments so that our body doesn’t have to spend all day everyday having to adapt to these unnatural stresses. We can make our home and office as body friendly as we can.
By doing this you will allow your body to “age gracefully”. Get the best out of our amazing bodies. Bones and cartilage will wear much slower, more evenly and naturally. Muscles will remain balanced, strong and elastic instead of becoming weak, contracted and inelastic (fibrous).
Keep an eye on our blogs or reach out for more information on how you can do this. I hope to continue posting information so that people can head off the problems brought on by our sedentary life and poor sitting habits before they take old. Remember it is never too late to start looking after your body.