Our daily driving, desk and school work, as well as hours at the TV, have us sitting more than any culture before us. This is creating serious health problems including slowed metabolism, increased blood sugar, weight gain, bone and muscle loss as well as spinal pain.
Computer or tablet use can worsen the stress of sitting by encouraging a forward head position and collapsed chest with the arms and hands inwardly rotated. These chronic strains lead to muscle fatigue and trigger points, causing neck and back pain, numbness in the arms, headache, etc. When these forces persist, the normal shape of the spine is lost, and results in bones spurs, thinning disks, compression fractures and the dreaded “dowagers’ hump.”
The solution to this health thief is to sit less, and when sitting, to sit better.
Sitting less can be accomplished by use of a standing desk, or at least setting auto reminders on a computer or watch to signal us to get up and move. The old standby of getting up during commercials when watching TV should not be forgotten. And, you don’t have to wait for commercials – TV viewing is a great time to do a bit of stretching or strengthening.
Sitting better can be helped by remembering the cue to “look over the fence”. This simple trick causes you to sit taller with the head back over the shoulders. The chest opens, and the stomach and core muscles contract lightly. Damaging forces to the spine, muscles and internal organs reduce, and better circulation and muscle tone follows.
Need another reason to follow Grandma’s advice and sit up straight? A study at Columbia University show sitting in this posture reduces the stress hormone cortisol within two minutes. We know the grass really isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, but looking for it apparently can pay off.