Why Do Office Chairs Affect Spinal Health Problems – and How Do They Relieve Them?
We all know that people who sit long periods are at risk of early death – from blood clots and from a range of other health problems, majorly including spinal health issues. But when we sit all day in our office chair, are we aware of the risks of degenerative disc disease and back pain?
No movement starves your vertebral disks. The inter-vertebral discs rely on fluid inflow and outflow for their nutrition. When you lie down the pressure comes off the discs and they expand, absorbing water and moisture as they do. When you stand up, the discs are compressed and their watery component is squeezed out, thus removing waste products at the same time. Similar squeeze/expand cycles are occurring every time we move, both day and night.
You must move in order to “feed” your discs and keep them healthy. It is well proven that your degenerative disc “disease” progresses faster over time if your discs can’t alternate compression with expansion. This process is essential to provide the movement of spinal fluid which is so important for nourishing the discs.
In order to minimize the consequences of office chair sitting in terms of degenerative disk disease and sciatic nerve pain you need to move while you sit.
If you move while you sit you will:
- “Feed your discs” and keep them healthy.
- Minimize the risk of lower back pain
- Avoid on going pinched sciatic nerve pain
How Sitting All Day Is Damaging Your Body and How You Can Counteract It
Happlily, you only need to do two things to counter the effects of sitting all day:
- Remember to stand once an hour.
- Get about 30 minutes of activity per day.
Whether you’re a couch potato watching marathons of Suits or an office worker sitting in front of a computer, an Australian study suggests short breaks from sitting once an hour can alleviate most of the problems described above. This isn’t about working out (which is positive in it’s own right but doesn’t counteract the effects of long periods of sitting). It’s about creating pockets of moderate activity throughout the day and giving your body a respite from sitting.
How Can Long Term Sitting Without Movement Affect Your Health?
- Immediately After Sitting
Right after you sit down, the electrical activity in your muscles slows down and your calorie-burning rate drops to one calorie per minute. This is about a third of what it does if you’re walking. If you sit for a full 24-hour period, you experience a 40 percent reduction in glucose uptake in insulin, which can eventually cause type 2 diabetes.
- After Two Weeks of Sitting for More Than Six Hours a Day
Within five days of changing to a sedentary lifestyle, your body increases plasma triglycerides (fatty molecules), LDL cholesterol (aka bad cholesterol), and insulin resistance. This means your muscles aren’t taking in fat and your blood sugar levels go up, putting you at risk for weight gain. After just two weeks your muscles start to atrophy and your maximum oxygen consumption drops. This makes stairs harder to climb and walks harder to take. Even if you were working out every day the deterioration starts the second you stop moving.
- After One Year of Sitting More Than Six Hours a Day
After a year, the longer term effects of sitting can start to manifest subtly. According to this study by Nature, you might start to experience weight gain and high cholesterol. Studies in woman suggest you can lose up to 1 percent of bone mass a year by sitting for over six hours a day.
- After 10-20 Years of Sitting More Than Six Hours a Day
Sitting for over six hours a day for a decade or two can cut away about seven quality adjusted life years (the kind you want). It increases your risk of dying of heart disease by 64 percent and your overall risk of prostate or breast cancer increases 30 percent.
To counteract these potentially harmful effects of long-term sitting, why not get in touch with us for an informed, professional and friendly chat with one of our consultants to see how an ergonomic chair can help? Click here to get in touch with us today!
Cover Image Credit: BuiltLean