The human body is designed to be upright and weight bearing on two feet, with the hips extended under the spine to support the torso and head. Unfortunately, the technological advancements over the past 50 years have caused people to spend more and more time in seated positions instead of standing and walking. Extended seated postures have a detrimental effect on the body.When a person is seated, the hips, spine, shoulders, legs and feet are no longer required to engage in some of their major functions. The hips and spine no longer have to extend, and the feet no longer have to accept the weight of the body. As result, the muscles of the buttocks no longer have to work to extend the hips, the hip flexors and abdominals become shortened and compressed and the spinal structure becomes sounded.
Further, when you are sitting in front of a computer or in the driver’s seat of a car, your arms and hands are placed in front of your torso. This forward position causes the shoulders to round forward and the spine to flex. It also causes the neck and head to tilt upward to keep the eyes aligned with the horizon, computer screen, road, etc.
Changing Sitting Habits
• Get up, out of your chair, several times a day to promote
hip/leg and spine extension. Reach for the sky and
straighten out your entire body.
• Consider using a standing desk, or walking whenever
possible to avoid sitting at a desk or in a car.
• Consider using a stability ball instead of a chair.
• Adjust the position and alignment of your computer
monitor, telephones, steering wheels, chairs, televisions,
computer accessories and keyboards to allow you to
keep a more proper posture while sitting. Avoid reaching
your arms and hands too far forward of your torso.
If you are feeling achy in your upper back, or feel that you sit too long every day, a few exercises can be done to help you reverse the effects.
Stand up (of course), reach your arms in front of you, pull your elbows back behind you as far as you can, then lower your elbows into your “back pockets”. Notice your posture and try to hold this posture as long as you can.
Stand up (again), step forward slightly with your right foot keeping the knee lightly bent. Reach to the ceiling with both hands stretching your abdominal muscles. Tuck under your left hip to stretch the left hip flexor. Reverse to stretch the other side.
This exercise will relieve the muscles behind the neck. You can sit for this exercise, or you can stand with your back against a wall. Pull your shoulders back and down. With your head facing forward, pull your chin in pushing your head against the back of your chair or the wall. Hold it for a few seconds and then just relax. Do Not push the head forward again. Repeat 4-5 times.
Brenda Rule-Osburn, RDH,
Bodies Be Fit, President