Several surveys revealed that the average American spends about 7.7 hours of their day sitting. With cubicle and work-from-home jobs in full-swing, sitting is just a part of modern day work. Some people try to counteract hours in the chair by purchasing a standing desk. Others try to sit on exercise balls or kneeling chairs to better correct posture. Nevertheless, all of that sitting can create tension in the hip flexors and lower back.
After a long day of sitting, most people continue to sit on the couch or in the dining room, either watching TV or hunching over their phone. Even self-care hobbies like journaling or meditation involve sitting! Although long periods of sitting may be inevitable, you can engage in a few simple techniques to mitigate the negative effects of sitting. In this article, we will go over a few strategies that may help reduce pain and improve posture.
The Health Risks Of Sitting For Long Periods
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Contrarily, those who sit less report fewer instances of these chronic health conditions. They also experience better mood and sleep quality, in addition to an overall enhancement of daily functioning.
In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that lower back pain impacted 619 million people worldwide. Health experts estimate that this number will reach 843 million by 2050. Lower back pain usually begins with stiffness, particularly in the hips and along the spine. It is the leading cause of disability globally and affects people across all ages and genders.
Pain is complex, and there are limited solutions to the way people process it. Since standing all day is not an option for everyone and can also lead to pain, we hope the following strategies help ease stiffness and reduce lower back pain from sitting.
Strengthen Your Core
Not only does a stronger core contribute to better balance, but it also helps support your torso while seated. Increasing core strength supports the spine and reduces strain on joints and intervertebral discs. One study monitored 30 participants with lower back pain who engaged in a five-week core strengthening program. At the end of the study, everyone reported a significant reduction in pain and muscle fatigue after performing seated tasks.
Optimize Your Desk Setup
Ideally, your chair should support your back and you should be able to rest your feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be in line or slightly lower than your hips. Reduce strain on the neck by having your screen be at eye level and an arm’s length away. Consider investing in lumbar supporters, footrests, or monitor stands if you spend a lot of time at your desk. A standing desk can also be beneficial so that you can change positions throughout the day.
You don’t have to jog in place while checking emails; rather, counteract your sitting by moving your body. Health experts suggest 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. You can supplement this time with resistance training and mobility workouts to counteract all the sitting you do. It can be highly beneficial to flow through a series of yoga poses, engage in water aerobics, or take part in Zumba classes. A little movement goes a long way, with a short walk on your lunch break providing great benefits.
Take Movement Breaks
According to research, two hours of continuous sitting can trigger immediate lower back pain or general discomfort. Your ability to solve problems may be impacted by this sitting! Get out of your chair every 30 minutes to help prevent some of these issues. Engage in some squats, a full-body stretch, or even pace while on a phone call. Consider a few hip stretches or some foam rolling to reduce pain in your hip flexors.
Be Mindful Of Your Sitting Habits
While you are seated at work, take note of your posture. Are your shoulders slouched? Are your legs crossed? Are you leaning to one side to compensate for pain on the other? These observations may indicate that you need to improve your work set up to reduce pain. You may even require an ergonomic assessment or visit to your health care provider to prevent back pain, especially sciatica. Early intervention is essential, so tackle the issue before it becomes a serious problem.