Researchers say that the average American spends 75% of his or her waking hours sitting in a chair. With so much repetition, it becomes increasingly important that we become mindful of our sitting habits. Any activity that is sustained over hours at a time, deserves careful attention of its side effects.
Sitting is, for lack of a better word, dangerous. It puts tremendous pressure on the spine, internal organs, and muscles. To help avoid complications that can arise due to sitting, avoid these three habits.
Stop these Bad Sitting Habits ASAP
Crossing Your Legs
Just for a moment, cross your legs. Now switch legs, placing the opposite leg on top this time. You might notice that one side is much more comfortable than the other.
When you cross your legs, you’re creating a structural imbalance in your body. Your pelvis favors and tilts to one side, while the femoral head (top of the thigh bone) of the crossed leg is gently pulled away from its socket. Your leg muscles, particularly the quadriceps are stretched with unequal intensity.
While this imbalance is harmless in a short period of time, when repeated day after day for minutes or even hours, injury can occur. The body begins to adapt to this imbalance and you develop a tilt to one side. In extreme cases, a cane will eventually be required to walk.
Sit with your feet both flat on the floor, with your thighs parallel to each other. Even avoid crossing your ankles. Your body will thank you.
One of the worst things we can do for our bodies is to slouch forward at the desk. Likewise, it’s one of the easiest activities to fall into. When concentrating, whether it be on work or the computer game you’re playing, sitting up straight becomes an afterthought.
When you slouch, your creating an unnatural curve, especially in the cervical (upper) and thoracic (middle) areas of the spine. The muscles of the back become strained under the burden of keeping your body upright in face of gravity. The discs (soft material separating the vertebrae) are under constant stress. If not taken care of, permanent damage such as disc herniation can occur.
In an ideal sitting position, the back is straight and tall, and the vertebrae stack on each other. It requires minimal effort from the back muscles to support your posture. At first, it may seem like sitting tall is uncomfortable and requires more effort, but over time your core muscles will develop and sitting straight becomes more comfortable altogether. To help support yourself, raise your computer monitor’s center-point to be directly in-line with your eye level. This will help you avoid subconsciously crooning forward.
Sitting without taking Breaks
The biggest enemy of a healthy back is stagnation. Our bodies were designed to be active. On an anthromorphic level, we evolved into organisms capable of running and hunting. Compared to the 200,000 year life span of our species, we’ve only been sitting in chairs for about 2000 of them. The body simply hasn’t had enough time to evolve into the chair.
When sat for long periods of time, the muscles start to atrophy. Circulation decreases due to lack of movement and nutrients are less efficiently distributed to the body. Eventually the muscles start to cramp and ache due to lack of pain relieving hormones such as cortisol. The immediate result is pain and the long term result is potential spine injury.
Researchers say that a simple 3 minute break every hour, can do wonders for your spine and your back. Stand up, walk around, and stretch. This will give your back time to loosen up, while kick starting your circulation system.