Sitting - The New Smoking?

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Do you find yourself sitting at a desk for long periods of time? Do you find yourself starting to slouch, change positions to try to get comfortable, or notice your head slowly creeping toward the screen? In this article I will discuss the importance of maintaining a healthy posture, the effects of negative posture, and a few tips & tricks to staying comfortable and healthy while sitting.

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Posture has been studied for centuries. Hippocrates himself had said “Look well to the spine for the cause of disease.” Spinal health affects every organ, cell, and tissue of your body. To fully understand posture, we must first connect that the position of your spine is directly related to the functionality of your body systems. This connection is the nervous system. There are millions of fibers that travel from your brain to your body - every cell - through your spine. They come off in pairs along the side and are vulnerable to interference. These nerves can be irritated by inflammation, compressed by disc bulges, and strangled by muscles. The weight of a dime impacting a nerve can decrease its ability to function by 40-60%. It only makes sense that if we are not in the proper posture things can go haywire.

A chronically poor posture prevents nerves from functioning at their best potential. This means your immune system doesn’t work well, your lungs cannot get a full expansion of air, your heart may experience increased pressure, and your digestion changes. Posture has been linked to the increased prevalence of chronic illness and headaches. In fact, it has even been referenced as the “new smoking”. Take a moment to think about it. How is your nervous system functioning?

Luckily, there are a few things that I could recommend to those that spend a lot of time sitting at their desks.

Get regular chiropractic care. Chiropractic care is effective in treating nervous system dysfunction through adjustment of subluxations (misalignments) of your spine. It positively impacts your overall health and well-being and can help restore curvatures to their natural state.

When possible, use a standing workstation. I would recommend changing between a standing and sitting position every half hour. This allows your joints a chance to breathe, your muscles an opportunity to stretch, and blood to flow more freely.

Take periodic breaks from using your workstation. Take a walk around the office. Go find your colleague instead of making a phone call or sending an email. Visit the water cooler or use the restroom.

Adjust your chair to the proper height so that your feet may remain flat on the floor and your knees are even with, or slightly lower than, your hips.

The monitor should be directly at eye-level. You do not want to look down at your monitor or you will notice a slow shift of your head forward from your shoulders. Your keyboard should also be directly in front of you with your arms parallel to the floor.

Sit back in your chair. Allow your hips to sit as far back into the chair as possible and allow the chair back to fully support your lumbar and thoracic spines (the low back and upper back). Try to keep your shoulders relaxed and arms hanging loosely.

I wanted to make a follow up to this - many people that sit at a desk all day hold their tension in their trapezius muscles. It is crucial to keep your shoulders as relaxed as you can. You may need to shrug your shoulders to your ears and let them fall back down to realize how high they have gotten, even just while you’re reading this article!

Try to keep everything even from left to right. When you’re standing, keep weight even on both legs. While you’re sitting make sure you’re evenly distributing the weight in your buttocks - sitting on one side more than the other (or sitting on a wallet… looking at you, guys) can greatly displace your hips which give a chain reaction up your spine.

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I hope that you have learned a few things. If you can employ just one of these tricks in your daily life I can almost certainly promise a nervous system that’s functioning better. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and contact me. I can be reached at the office (262.204.7007) or via email at info@corechiro.org.

Life at its fullest, from the heart of chiropractic. That’s Core Chiropractic.

Take your athletic performance to the next level with Core Chiropractic.

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Matthew Waro