I’m sure at some point in your life you will have heard a teacher, or your own mother say “sit up” or “stop slouching.” Did you ever think they might have a point to their preaching?
Listening to their advice might not have been such a bad idea after all! In this day and age, nearly everything we do, whether it’s sitting in front of a computer, on our phones, or watching the television, is usually performed sitting down. According to the New York Times, about 80% of the jobs in the United States are sedentary, or require only occasional movement. CNN reports that on average, adults watch television for nearly four hours per day, and teens spend about nine hours a day on an electronic device.
Sitting for extended periods of time, day in and day out, is actually hard work on your body and can lead to neck, upper back, shoulder, and even arm pain.
Sitting with poor posture for extended periods can increase stress placed on the junction between your cervical and thoracic spine, and your shoulder joints. This happens because we usually sit with our heads in a forward flexed position with rounded shoulders. Over time, our bodies start to become used to this position, and physical changes to our muscles and joints occur.
Typically, what happens is that the muscles in our chest, namely the pectoralis major and minor become tight, and draw our shoulders forward, making the joints in our thoracic spine become stiff, and difficult to get into a neutral position. The added stress in these areas can start to cause impingement of the shoulder joint tendons, and degeneration of cervical and thoracic discs can also occur.
In addition to this, upper back musculature can start to develop trigger points or “knots” because they are not strong enough to support our prolonged improper sitting. This is where things start to get painful; headaches, radiating arm pain, pain when reaching in certain directions, or when turning your head. If you’re noticing that you’ve already gotten to this point, then it may be time to seek help from a physical therapist for low back pain therapy.
Some easy tips to help promote better posture during the day include frequently getting up from your desk to stretch out your chest. Setting up your workstation to be more ergonomic is a great way to help promote upright posture while sitting at work. Last, but certainly not least, try to become more active, and limit the amount of screen time for yourself.
If these tips aren’t enough to improve your posture, check out your local Foothills location for an assessment. Spring is the best time of year to enjoy the outdoors, and one of the main reasons why we live in Arizona!