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Sitting at work We now live in an industrial and technological age, making it nearly impossible to live as actively as we once did. A sedentary lifestyle (Sitting) is the ultimate culprit, and we will examine the reasons for this. Sitting has been called the ‘smoking’ of this generation. The ramifications of prolonged sitting range from a measurable decrease in productivity to manifestations of actual disease process. Let us focus on the fact that prolonged sitting affects our overall posture and how this, in turn, can have severe physical consequences. For the majority, the typical day can depicted as follows: Wake up and shower. Sit to have breakfast.

Sit in a vehicle on our way to work. Most of us sit at work - only a lucky few get to move. If you are required to be seated at work, chances are you may only have the opportunity to get up a few times during the day. Break for lunch, usually involving sitting down to eat your meal. Drive home in a seated position. Again, sit down for dinner. Perhaps, sit or lie on the couch prior to going to bed. This depiction of the predominantly sedentary day is bleak, considering that as human beings, we are built to move.  Picture an individual sitting in front of a computer with a slightly rounded back, with one’s head and shoulders hanging forward. Imagine how the body is being warped when this posture is held for many hours daily, at home, work or in a vehicle. Visualize the accrued period of months and years that one maintains these postural habits. What would happen to our postures when we stand up?

The evidence is ubiquitous. Shoulders and heads compensate forward. Upper backs become rounded. It's not a coincidence, nor bad luck or genetics. Sitting for prolonged hours every day has shortened all of our abdominal (front) musculature and over lengthened our back musculature into sustained, awkward forms. Â As a result, the abdominal muscles have shortened and potentially strengthened, rendering the back musculature weak. By virtue of prolonged sitting, our gluteal and hip musculature do not fire appropriately, furthering the core instability and associated issues that arise. This is problematic because those muscles are the prime movers of the body. When these structures are inactive, our bodies reflexively compensate with other muscles (quadriceps and hamstrings) to replace the work of the direct hip structures. The results included majorly compensated movement patterns. These faulty movement patterns can lead to back, hip and knee pain, amongst many others. Sitting changes the way we use our bodies, clearly contrary to our optimal efficiency.

Over time, prolonged sitting warps posture. Concurrently,the body's physiology goes through major changes in its oxygen consumption. Internally, prolonged sitting places uncomfortable duress on our internal organs as they are forced into compression. This stress makes it difficult for the diaphragm (our main breathing muscle) to contract properly. Consequently, we are forced to overuse our accessory breathing muscles in compensation. These muscles (intercostals, scalenes, upper traps, levator scapulae) are smaller and affect a smaller range of motion for the ribs which directly translates to less oxygen available for inhalation and less carbon dioxide expelled during exhalation. This results in premature fatigue, decreased ability to concentrate and higher acidity in the body. All chemical reactions that occur in the body require oxygen. Any subsequent reduction in oxygen will impede performance and function. We can therefore conclude that sitting for long periods will have adverse effects on movement and posture. How can we augment our outcomes at the end of the day? Many options are available for a more active day at work such as, standing work stations,

active sitting, sitting on a Swiss ball, as well as increasing physical activity into our daily schedule. It is important to note that although we can learn to assume proper sitting postures, the act, in and of itself, is counterproductive to great physical health. Knowing this, we should aim to get up and move around for a few minutes every half hour. This will help activate muscles that lay inactive while seated and will boost circulation. Not all work places allow for standing workstation or Swiss balls to replace chairs.   The following is an outline to learn how to sit actively on a work chair, as this will be the most accessible option for most. When sitting on a chair, it is important to have the feet in contact with the floor. Your knees and hips should be bent at 90°.

As the hips roll forward, your back will begin to straighten. Too often, I see clients using their backs to straighten the spine in seated postures. This will lead to pain and won't be comfortable to hold over time. Rolling the hips forward allows for a pain free way to align the spine. This will require practise and conscious effort. Trust that in due time, this practice will become automatic and your discomforts will become a distant memory. For more details visit here

Sitting at work  

We now live in an industrial and technological age, making it nearly impossible to live as actively as we once did. A sedentary lifestyle (S...

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