Is Your Desk Killing You?

Is Your Desk Killing You?

We spend the majority of our lives sitting. We sit at school, in the car, on the commuter train and at work. Then we go home and plop down on our buttocks for an evening of tablets, televisions and computers.

Recently, Forbes published an article this year titled “Is Sitting the New Smoking?” where researchers report that sitting more than six hours in a day will greatly increase your risk of an early death. More interesting, is that sitting was an independent risk factor separate from how active the study subjects were.

Unfortunately, this means that whether you jog, bike, or work out on a daily basis – if you spend the bulk of your day sitting, you’re increasing your risk of death.

READ MORE: Stretches for Office Workers

As physiotherapists, we treat a large percentage of people that suffer from back and neck pain related to years behind a desk. The latest and greatest ergonomic chair cannot change the fact that people are spending too much time on sitting. Sitting is a flexed posture, meaning that everything is bent forward. This leads to stiffness in our necks, trunks, hips and calves. It also elongates and weakens the spinal muscles and impacts our ability to engage our core system.

So what can the average desk-bound person do?

  1. Reduce sitting time by breaking it up – both at home and at work. Take standing and walking breaks. Get up during commercials. Use a smaller cup for coffee or drinks so your trips for refills will be more frequent.
  2. Consider a kneeling chair, or use a standing desk at work. More workplaces are warming to the idea.
  3. Sit in a variety of sitting postures. Lean backwards, forwards, cross your legs, etc. Changing up the way you sit will alter the activity of your musculoskeletal system.
  4. Sit up tall like a Christmas tree ornament in pulling you taller. Take deep breaths to expand your ribcage. Stay here as long as you can.

Finally, be mindful of the fact that you have been sitting all day before heading out for your evening run. Give your body a chance to warm up by starting slowly. Incorporating these tips, plus have a variety of daily exercises to reduce the musculoskeletal side effects of sitting all day should help you sit more comfortably for longer periods of time.

Tamara Koroscil
Physiotherapist at Trailside Physiotherapy

For more information, read the article by Shaun Francis (Sitting at your desk is killing you, so go on, stand up, fidget and stretch to save your life), or watch his video on the National Post.

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