Sit All day At Work?
- Posted on: Jan 6 2020
Sitting all day at work has its conveniences, but it also comes with negative affects on your body. Being in one position for most of your day can decrease cardiovascular activity/ endurance, develop unwanted medical conditions like Carpal Tunnel, and can lead to low back pain. Physical Therapy is working towards a more preventative aspect of care rather than a permissive one to avoid problems before they might happen. This blog will focus more on a preventative method for avoiding low back pain as low back pain is number one cause of disability worldwide.
Low back pain from sitting can be due to weakness of the lower back and core or tightness of the hip. The lower back and core muscles are the foundation in maintaining your lower spine in a correct position in sitting. The natural position of the lower spine (lumbar spine) should be in lordosis which means a slight curve towards your belly button. If you are reading this now, stay still and try to determine whether your lower back is rounded or if you are sitting up straight. If you sat up straight to correct your posture, that means your postural muscle endurance is weak and decreased, making it hard for you to maintain that position throughout the day. To address this problem, it is important to do core and low back strengthening and endurance exercises at home or at the gym to avoid further. There are many exercise programs online that can help strengthening those areas.
The lumbar spine (lower back) positioning is not only affected by the muscles of the core and lower back but communicates with the position of the pelvis. The pelvis is shifted posteriorly (backwards) when sitting slouched in a chair either because of your inability to maintain the straight sitting position as addressed above, or because of tightness in the hip muscles that pulls on the pelvis. There are two main muscles that act on the pelvis in most people. The hamstring (back thigh muscle) help pull the pelvis backwards while the quadriceps (front thigh muscles) pull the pelvis forward. The quad and the hamstring are muscles that work against each other, so while one is tight, the other is usually not. To determine which one is tight there are tests that you can do at home. Do not always assume that your hamstring is tight because you cannot touch your toes when standing. The quad could be tight pulling your pelvis forward which in turns pulls the hamstring into a stretched position. In that stretched position, the muscle does not want to be stretched even more therefore mimicking a “tightness”. The Thomas test is a test to determine whether you have tight quads or not.
In summary, sitting for long periods of time every day especially for work can lead to negative habits and conditions to your body without the proper preventative methods and exercises. Ask your physical therapist to help you determine what could be potentially causing problems when sitting or come in and be evaluated by one of our PT’s. A professional is more accurate on performing these hip and low back tests to determine what you are lacking.
Posted in: Physical Therapy