Deep down you're positive that you're making a conscious effort to tick all the right boxes in your desire to be fit. You regularly exercise, maintain good posture (most of the time), you even eat healthy. Yet with back pains frequently paying you a visit, you might wonder if there is anything that you may be overlooking health-wise. And frankly, you might be…
What you and a lot of others may already know is that backaches happen for a number of reasons. What you may not be aware of however, is the fact that exercise is simply not enough to keep this discomfort from rearing its ugly head. And if you ever wonder what may be triggering your back pains, you might not have to look further than your office desk. Do you notice anything fundamentally wrong with the setup?
Sure, it’s the way we’ve been doing things for a long time, yet let’s face it… your desk is designed to have you do one thing: sit. And by now, I'm sure you've heard about the popular mantra: “sitting is the new smoking." Indeed, this seemingly harmless habit may be why you’re experiencing a variety of physical discomforts as you go about your daily activities, including that pesky back pain. We’re here to fix that…
So how does sitting aggravate your back?
1) Stress on the Spine. By default, sitting puts more than twice the amount of stress on the spine when compared to standing. And with your tendency to slouch becoming higher when you sit, the pressure your spine gets in the process doubles. The consequence? Back pain.
2) Bad Posture. Sadly, your brain is often designed to relax (and forgets about following any semblance of rules) when you sit. That's why chair warriors like yourself often run the risk of fatiguing ligaments that prevent back pain. In most cases, you'll need more than just an ergonomic chair and an iron will to stave off the resulting discomfort.
3) Prolonged Inactivity. As medical practitioners point out: there is no nerve supply to our vertebral discs... so naturally, they get nourishment via movement. In theory, sitting down for several hours a day is equivalent to you depriving your discs of much-needed nutrients. This inevitably results in a splitting backache over time.
4) Increased Lower Back Load. To put it bluntly: sitting makes the musculoskeletal parts responsible for fighting off back pains lazy. It shortens and tightens the psoas, the strong hip flexor, increasing the load put on your lower back. Not only that, it makes your gluteal muscles weaker—making them highly susceptible to hip pain.
5) Muscles Grow Weaker. When you're physically active, your muscles readily produce health-sustaining chemicals. However, if you put those same muscles to sleep for too long (via sitting, for example), they will stop producing those essential regulatory substances that they need for normal biological function. That definitely spells bad news for you, especially when this puts you in a whole lot of pain!
It's clear that your body reacts adversely to physical inactivity. Because it isn't designed to sit for long hours, it will desperately signal the brain to do something besides sitting… and those signals often come in the form of backaches. When that happens, you'll undoubtedly be in for a long day.
Thankfully, we've got a lot of help on hand to avert the harmful consequences that come from excessive sitting. Modern innovations like standing desks have grown in prominence over the years for their ability to promote good work habits and stave off the painful consequences of living a sedentary lifestyle.
In fact, a peer-reviewed case study published in one of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journals back in 2012 found that test subjects who use sit-to-stand desks have reported fewer complaints of chronic back and neck pains by as much as 54%. And this is no random coincidence either as there have been consequent studies that have made a similar conclusion over the years.
Without doubt, all hope is not lost when you're plagued by chronic backaches despite your efforts at pursuing a healthy lifestyle. It only means that you only need a few more adjustments in your daily activities to function optimally and pain-free. And if you ask me, those life-altering changes could be one standing desk away from becoming a reality.