Is sitting more harmful to your health than smoking?15 March 2018
Sitting (during extended periods of time) has recently been dubbed the new smoking. It has been linked to increased risk of coronary disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes etc. However, the most obvious impact might well be on our posture. Sitting at a desk day after day may result in back, hip, neck, and shoulder issues. The now infamous 'Computer head' is often associated by what I call the Mouse shoulder. I have recently dealt with three different people whose dominant shoulder was so inflamed due to prolonged mouse use, that one had to resort to teach himself to use the other hand!
Sore lower backs and painful hips
This gradual change of posture is not necessarily due to a lack of fitness. The brain now perceives that instead of standing it is normal to sit with hips flexed for 50 hours a week at a desk, plus even longer to allow for commuting and watching TV. As a result the brain pushes the head forward to counter-balance hips which have shifted to an anterior position from constant sitting. The result is tight lower back, locked hips, sore shoulders and neck – these being the most common ailments office workers will consult a physiotherapist for.
Having said all this, we all still need to earn a living and the vast majority of us in the UK will have a job involving sitting at a desk. So what can be done to help counteract this 'unnatural' sitting position?
Move as much as possible.
I often give clients a few stretches they can do at their desk or queueing for their lunch. A number of companies now offer some standing desks which seem to have tremendous positive effects on posture and general well-being, since it forces people to move around rather than remaining static in a fixed, unhealthy position.
However the most important step would be to start a programme of intelligent exercise to retrain our brains to what should be the norm. Pilates is a wonderful tool to help rewire the body and brain to use muscular resources efficiently, decompressing joints and the spine plus giving support where it is needed by the body. It helps isolate and correct compensation patterns and achieve the posture our bodies deserve. Coupled with strength training focused on functional movement, you are now well equipped to win the fight against the worst habit since smoking was invented!
15 March 2018
White Room Fitness