“Science-backed” ways to sit healthier and relieve back pain “Science-backed” ways to sit healthier and relieve back pain

“Science-backed” ways to sit healthier and relieve back pain

“Science-backed” ways to sit healthier and relieve back pain
Some studies have revealed that people who spend between 6 to 8 hours sitting daily have a 20% increased risk of premature death from any health cause.

But, why does sitting cause health problems?

This is thought to be because sitting for long periods of time puts your body in a “standby” mode, where your metabolism slows, circulation is reduced due to joint flexion, and your ability to process blood sugar is impaired (inactive muscles don’t absorb as much blood sugar). Which leads to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Sitting for a long period of time may also lead to pain in the back, neck and shoulder muscles.

Sami Margot, a physiotherapist in London, explains that the “worst mistake” that can be made is to remain in the same sitting position for long periods.

Here are the latest scientifically supported rules to reduce the harm of prolonged sitting:

There is no need to sit upright

Contrary to what you have been told, the best sitting position is not to be upright with your shoulders pinned back, as a study conducted in 2021 and published in the journal Musculoskeletal Science and Practice did not find any evidence that sitting in an upright position prevents or relieves back pain. .

The researchers noted that the upright posture artificially straightens the natural curves of the spine, which may place the body under stress that it is unlikely to experience in a more natural, relaxed sitting position.

Dr Kieran O'Sullivan, lecturer in physiotherapy at the University of Limerick, confirms: "There is no one safe way to sit when it comes to back pain. If you feel fine, don't worry about your sitting position, and if you are in pain, try changing the position to relieve the pain."

So, a little slight laxity is acceptable as long as it doesn't cause pain or discomfort.

Danger of lying on the couch

"It's not a good idea to allow the back to bend into a C shape for long periods," Margot warns, especially since slouching for too long can put pressure on the discs that cushion the vertebrae in the spine, and force the neck and shoulders to work to keep the head from sliding forward.

Over time, prolonged lying on the couch may weaken the back and abdominal muscles, which may cause pain.

Physiotherapists recommend sitting facing the TV with your feet flat on the floor.

Lock your ankles, not your knees

Research shows that crossing your legs together (at the knees) causes your pelvis to rotate, and routinely sitting this way can lead to lower back pain because it stretches the gluteal muscles (3 groups of muscles that make up the buttocks).

A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that sitting with your legs crossed also makes your torso more sluggish.

A 2018 study found that crossed legs can reduce the speed at which blood moves through the blood vessels in the legs, which may increase the risk of blood clots, as well as misalignment of the spine and shoulders, and ultimately back pain.

Lower your screen while typing

One of the well-established rules of office ergonomics is to place the computer screen at eye level to reduce strain on the neck.

However, Margot says this only applies to people who are good at using the keyboard without looking at it. 

"Put your screen slightly below eye level to minimize head movement while looking up and down," she recommends.

Use the ironing board as a standing desk

"Depending on your height, a kitchen table can make an ideal desk (elevate your laptop on a thick cutting board if necessary), but an ironing board may be better because it's a 'perfect desk too' and can relieve pressure on the back if standing," Margot explains. . 


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