When you think of pain and injuries what typically comes to mind? Most associate pain with overexertion, sports, and vigorous movements of the body. While all of these are huge contributors to pain, there is one many often sweep under the rug – a sedentary lifestyle. The thought of inactivity causing pain may come as a shock to some. After all, how can you obtain pain if you aren’t frequently moving?


Truth be told, there are many ways a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to pain – acute and chronic. It’s recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week in order to break free from that sedentary lifestyle. Our Richmond Hill chiropractic care clinic sees many patients coming in expressing discomfort due to sedentary tasks they complete on a constant basis. It’s important to be aware of what everyday activities can impact your body and find a balance between rest and activity.


What does it mean to be sedentary?


A sedentary individual will spend the majority of their time seated or inactive. Those who work office jobs and are required to sit at a desk all day are more likely to develop a sedentary lifestyle. Albeit, this doesn’t mean every single office worker will – there are many office workers who can achieve a balance between being seated and working and finding time throughout the day to do some activity. 


Being sedentary doesn’t only refer to sitting for prolonged periods of time. It is that combined with little to no exercise. If you sit for 8 hours straight, only get up to use the washroom, go home, and sit back down, you have adopted a sedentary lifestyle. However, there are many ways to break free of it. Going for short walks throughout your workspace throughout the day can help alleviate some stress and tension you put on your body from sitting down for so long. 


How can sitting for prolonged periods of time cause back pain?


Do you ever notice yourself changing positions frequently at your desk just to get comfortable? If so, you aren’t alone. This is simply your body telling you to get up! When sitting down for long periods of time, the muscles get fewer nutrients and oxygen from your blood. It sounds a lot scarier than it actually is. Your muscles thrive on these nutrients and oxygen and without an adequate amount, they will become agitated hence you need to move around in your chair so often.


Prolonged sitting also puts pressure on the discs in your back. After a little while, you may notice you begin to slouch. While sitting for too long in any position can cause pain in the long run, sitting with proper posture can be much worse. When you notice yourself slouching or you become antsy trying to stay in one position, it means your body is essentially fighting to NOT be sedentary. Listen to your body and go for a short walk or get up and stretch. 


What are some ways you can fix your posture if you HAVE to sit for prolonged periods of time?


It’s easy to get so caught up in a task that you end up sitting down for hours straight working on it. Of course, there are meetings that go on for hours and getting up and walking up and about may not be the most professional stance to take in a meeting. There are a few ways you can help reduce the possibility of nagging pain if you find yourself having to sit without breaks.


Lower your chair, raise up your phone – do you find that you are hunched over quite often? This could be due to two factors 1) the height of your chair and 2) the use of your cell phone. Positioning your chair to the maximum height setting is okay if your screen still sits at eye level or slightly above. However, if you have to look down at your screen when your chair is in said position, this can cause you to slouch. Keep your screen at eye level. Same applies to your phone. We often look down at our phones, causing us to slouch, yet again. Limit the time you spend on your mobile device or keep it at an upright, eye level.


Pay attention to your lean – we like to be as comfortable as possible when sitting, after all, isn’t that the purpose of sitting? However, if you find yourself leaning forward often, that could contribute to pesky back pain. Leaning forward in a chair puts pressure on your lower spine and compresses your discs. Leaning backwards has the same effect on your spine. In this case, it all comes down to achieving good posture!


Consider your neck when making calls – if you make frequent calls in your office setting, you may find yourself multitasking often. Taking a call while typing or writing is common practice. Many times, people will utilize their shoulder to hold the phone up to their ear. This can cause an irregular movement of the neck. While you may not feel it at first, this puts a lot of tension on one side of the neck as you are essentially stretching one side and compressing the other. Have no choice but to multitask? Luckily there are many hands-free options that won’t compromise your neck!


If you can’t walk, stand – if you can’t take many walking breaks throughout the day, consider investing in a standing desk. There are many on the market from solely standing to sit-to-stand-to-sit desks. These can help keep you on your feet while you are working, eliminating tension from your back.


Being sedentary contributes as much to back pain as the latter, living a very active lifestyle. If you find yourself in a sedentary state often, there are many ways you can change that. From adopting a consistent exercise routine to getting up and walking/stretching every hour to fixing your posture. Doing so can help you avoid nagging back pain that can creep in when you least expect it.


Looking for relief from your back pain? Don’t sit on it for too long! Contact us today for a FREE consultation.

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