Prolonged Sitting at a Desk

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The dangers of sitting still all day,

Sitting at a desk for sustained, long periods of time can be demanding on health and wellness, wreaking havoc on the body. When sitting at a desk for hours on end you tend to hunch your shoulders and protrude your neck, there is also eye strain. This is stress that can affect the whole body. A muscle that is not used will deteriorate over time. Unfortunately, many jobs require sitting all day. Even if you are eating a healthy diet and can find time to exercise throughout the week, prolonged stages of sitting can still affect your body; Get up and move! 60-90 minutes of moderate exercise/activity a day is a great way to keep the body healthy but here are things you can do even if you can find that time to exercise. Take a break every 30-45 minutes; move around the office, take a restroom break, grab a cup of water, stretch, and relieve the pressure placed on the body due to your posture. Sitting can lead to the weakening and deterioration of large muscle groups. When these muscles are no longer effective you can expect more injuries, strains and longer healing times if these injuries do occur. These simple fixes and adjustments to your work environment can significantly reduce the negative impacts of sitting at a desk for hours. Not just reducing the musculoskeletal problems but boosting job satisfaction and happiness.

An example of some of these negative impacts of sitting at a desk for hours are:

Lower back pain- hunching the back, especially for prolonged periods of time can exert sustained pressure on the discs in between our vertebrae. This can lead to the disc bulging and putting pressure on the spinal cord and nearby nerve roots, triggering inflammation and lower back pain. The disk material also releases chemical irritants that contribute to nerve inflammation. When a nerve root is irritated, there may be pain, numbness, and weakness in one or both of your legs.

Wrist strains- the muscles and tendons we use to type run through the wrist. When contracting they rub and glide against each other. Over sustained periods of time this can cause inflammation and pain.

Neck and shoulder pain sitting at a desk we tend to hunch our shoulders and protrude our neck forward. Sitting in this position can lead to the weakening of the muscles that support the neck, predisposing those muscles to more strains. Similarly, the hunching of our shoulders narrows the space in our shoulders which tendon like the bicep tendon runs through. This can lead to inflammation and pain at the front of the shoulder.

Tight hips- humans biologically aren’t designed to sit. The muscles used to flex our legs at the hip are shortened in a seated position. Sustained sitting can lead to the shortening and weakening of the muscle and cause a decrease in range of motion available at the hip thus the sensation of the hips feeling tight and inflexible.

If you are experiencing any of the aches and pains mentioned, it is worth considering seeing a professional as a viable treatment option, that can discover and fix the underlying problems and can give you possible treatment options going forward.

To determine what is causing the pain and why an Osteopath will examine and speak to the patient to develop a treatment plan specifically tailored to their needs; with the aim to reduce pain and discomfort and help increase general range of motion available at the joint. Exercises will also be prescribed to complement the work done in treatment and strengthen the muscles around the joint, so they can deal with daily load. This examination will include a physical assessment of the area where the pain is located as well as a review of the patient’s current lifestyle and medical history to determine the contributing factors to the pain.

Don’t wait to get booked in! Osteopathy can help reduce inflammation, restore muscles, and increase mobility, Reducing the risk of the pain coming back again. However, Small aches and pains over time can lead to an increase in symptoms. As mentioned above sustained sitting can even lead to the compression and sensitization of nerves. But not to fret; treatments used in our sessions can be beneficial towards desensitizing the nerves such as soft tissue massage and neurodynamic / nerve flossing. These treatments can help to reduce pain, inflammation, improve circulation and promote the body’s natural healing response.

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