4 Harmful Effects Of Sitting All Day
Four harmful effects of sitting for too long
Sitting is such a paradox. After a long day at the office, the only thing you want to do is sit on the couch and relax. But cosy up in that same position (more likely on a poorly designed office chair than a plush sofa) all day long and you suffer a stiff neck, tight shoulders, and back pain. What gives?
Research has shown that Most people are sitting six to 13 hours a day and this immobility causes the illnesses we have come to recognise as modern disorders, like diabetes, obesity, cancers, heart conditions, and loss in blood volume.
While those diseases may take years to develop, the pain from sitting all day is immediately felt after getting up. Here's why everything hurts after a day spent chained to your chair.
Your muscles are wasting away
When you sit all day, you know what your glutes and calves are doing? Pretty much nothing -- except slowly wasting away. This could make for a sore, wobbly walk home when your legs finally start holding you up again.
It's not the number of hours sat that's important, it's how many uninterrupted hours of sitting that matters
Taking a load off (and keeping it off for hours on end) can also make the blood build up in your veins, which causes unpleasant sensations like burning and cramping in the calves.
Your nerves are spazzing out
Sitting might be relaxing for your body, but to your nerves, it's torture. The unnatural position causes strained and pinched nerves, which results in pain throughout the body.
If you sit in one position long enough and you don't move, the muscle contracts. As it contracts, it pulls the nerves it's in contact with, so you go into a sort of spasm.
It's one thing to stimulate the muscle to contract and relax when you're engaging in an activity, but if you contract it and don't move for a long time, it can pinch the nerves and cause pain in the lower back and shoulders.
Your upper body slouches forward
You've probably seen those charts about how to sit properly -- shoulders relaxed, eyes level with the screen, arms parallel to the floor, back straight. But as your to-do list consumes the day, demands like managing your inbox and dealing with your boss eventually cause a breakdown in your posture.
You're slouching whether you know it or not. When you slouch while sitting, your head is pulled down and forward by gravity. Your spine will start to curve and your body will experience pain.
Your spine has three natural curves it aims to maintain.
If you keep your back straight and you think of gravity as a force that pulls in one direction, downward, like a vertical rod, you can align yourself to this vertical and spare your body from pain.
Your lumbar discs are getting crunched
Your spine is practically begging you to stand. An upright position puts the discs in your lower back in proper alignment and minimises the pressure they endure. Sitting, on the other hand, forces the vertebrae to crunch down unto each other and bear a lot more force, increasing the risk of chronic lower back pain.
"When you're sitting, your spine is compressing. In space, you get taller by 1-2 inches, and if you lay in bed, you'll also get taller, because your discs are expanding. But when astronauts return from space or people get out of bed, their vertebrae collapse onto each other and cause pain. This is also happening when you sit for a long period of time," said Vernikos.
One big culprit of the pain from a compressed spine is the damage done to the cushioning between the discs.
The muscles have weakened and the vertebrae start collapsing, squeezing the padding and nerves between the discs. This is a huge source of pain.
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