I’m sure by this point you have heard somebody say that sitting is bad for your back and health. Our culture has shifted into being primarily office based jobs. If you compare our current jobs to the average job of Americans over the past 100 years you will see that we are sitting more than we ever have throughout history. Production jobs have been replaced by computerized robots that can build our cars and package our foods. These jobs have gone from sweating and hard work to learning how to operate a computer. Hence, more time on your butt.
So what is the big deal? Wouldn’t it be worse on our backs if we were lifting heavy things all day and causing wear and tear? Well yes, in a way. Here is some physics for you. Most injuries that I see throughout the day are what I call “micro traumas.” This means that there was not a specific event that caused the problem, such as lifting a heavy box or falling on the ice. Obviously these are easy to relate to because they are mechanical in nature with the mechanism of injury. However, when you are sitting, you are still applying compressive forces to your lumbar spine, especially if you have poor sitting posture. Your normal lumbar curve should curve forward and if you slump into your chair you lose that curve. This applies more pressure to your disc. The disc is 90% water and then a very strong ligament. It was not designed to bear the majority of your upper body weight, like in the slouching position. Over time this type of pressure is what causes damage to your spine. It causes inflammation in the facet joints, degeneration of your discs, and compression of your nerve roots. This all leads to back pain that gradually comes on over time. Quick physics example. I can punch you in the arm really hard one time and cause a bruise -OR- I can apply a moderate pressure on your arm over the course of a few days that will also result in a bruise. This is exactly the same thing that happens in your back. The result is the same, one method just takes longer than the other.
What’s the remedy? You need to get up and move around more often. You should not sit for longer than 45 minutes in a row. Something as simple as standing up and walking in place with a few stretches can reset things for you. A good chair that provides proper support is essential and you have to be aware of your posture. Think back to our parents that had books on their heads to make sure they weren’t slouching (I might be dating myself there).
What about chiropractic care? You should be adjusted on a regular basis. Even if you have perfect posture, do your stretches, and don’t sit for prolonged periods, you are still going to have to take care of yourself. You will have wear and tear on your body, it’s normal. You had to brush your teeth today! You have to take a shower! You have to get your spine adjusted. It’s just part of the normal maintenance of the human body.