4 physical problems from sitting too much (and solutions)
How many hours of the day do you spend seated? It’s something you probably don’t think about very often, but can be shocking once you start to pay attention. From commuting and working or studying to watching TV, it’s likely that you sit for most hours of the day. While it’s great if you exercise, your lifestyle could still be considered sedentary thanks to the number of hours you sit.
You might ask, “why is sitting all day bad?” The reality is that there are many physical problems from sitting too much, which we will cover in the Pacific Prime Singapore article.
1. Back pain
Whether your back is always aching or you experience a twinge here and there, back pain can hinder you from performing optimally. One of the most common problems from sitting at a desk all day is lower back pain. Improper posture from leaning over your keyboard or slumping into your office chair can cause your spine to become out of alignment. This ends up straining the muscles and ligaments in your back.
To quickly loosen up your back muscles, move your pelvis forward and backward while sitting in your chair. The move is similar to a seated cat-cow pose. Tilt your hips up and round your back, and then tilt your hips back for a counter stretch.
What’s more, it helps to support your back to maintain proper posture when seated, such as by using a lumbar pillow. You also want to ensure your feet rest flat against the floor so your legs and back are not strained unnecessarily. If your feet dangle, get a footstool. Another long-term solution is to strengthen your core through exercise. Crunches and other abdominal exercises a few times a week will alleviate back pressure and help you keep good posture.
2. Tight hips
Sitting shortens your hip flexors over time. This group of muscles sits right at the front of your hips. You might have even felt pain there as tight hip flexors are a common sitting disease symptom. To add to the point above, strain in this area also plays a role in lower back pain. This is especially true if you don’t use an ergonomic chair or have poor posture.
There are plenty of stretches that can help release tight hip flexors. Become familiar with a few hip flexor stretches, such as the half-kneeling hip flexor stretch, 90/90 stretch, and supine stretch. The standing stretch is an easy one that you can do anytime, anywhere. Simply stand with your feet facing forward and your legs hip-width apart and bend one knee so your heel touches your bottom. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Take regular breaks from sitting to improve circulation and activate your muscles. Ideally, you want to get up from your desk every half an hour. There are handy apps that remind you to stand up at intervals throughout the day, or you can just set a recurring timer on your phone. Moving your body a couple of times an hour can also help minimize nerve damage from sitting too much.
3. Neck and shoulder pain
Prolonged sitting in the workplace is known to cause stiff shoulders and neck pain. People that spend a lot of time hunched over in front of their computer screen tend to suffer from this the most. Instead of moving your neck to meet your computer, stick to the rules of office ergonomics and position your monitor at arm’s length. Make sure your keyboard isn’t too far away either to avoid straining and always keep your neck, shoulders, and spine in alignment.
Instead of turning to painkillers to numb the discomfort, implement regular stretching into your daily routine. Chin tuck exercises can help release tight neck muscles while tilting your ear from left to right with your arms hanging down relieves tension in both the neck and shoulders. If you experience neck and shoulder pain regularly or it is affecting your performance, you might want to visit a chiropractor for an adjustment.
As for long-term solutions, one of the best things you can do is position the computer monitor straight in front of you. Positioning your monitor at an angle means your neck has to compensate. In addition, get a stand if you’re using a laptop or even prop up some books/shoe boxes to have it at eye level. Spend a lot of time on the phone? Opt for a headset instead – and try to take as many walking meetings as possible!
4. Wrist pain
It’s hardly a surprise that all that time spent hammering away at the keyboard and clicking the mouse can cause injuries. But we often fail to consider that these injuries can turn into serious health problems until it’s too late. Both positioning and overuse are reasons why wrist tendons become inflamed. Yet again, poor posture contributes to wrist pain as hunching your shoulders reduces proper blood flow to areas like your hands.
For a quick stretch, put your hands in a prayer position so your fingers and palms touch. Position your thumbs in the middle of your chest and point your fingers upwards. From there, move your hands up and down until you feel a good stretch for your wrists. Slowly count to five and release. Additionally, make sure your wrists are in a straight, natural position when you’re typing or using the mouse. They shouldn’t be too high or too low.
Now that you know how to reduce the effects of sitting all day, it’s time to put your knowledge into practice. It’s easy to get stuck in a sedentary lifestyle unless you make it a habit. Fortunately, one hour of exercise can help offset hours of sitting at work. But then there’s the time you spend driving and sitting on the couch too. The bottom line is that you should look for ways to stand up and get moving as often as possible, and watch how your body responds.
Read our article on choosing a gym membership in Singapore next!
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