Let’s face it, we’ve all been doing a lot of sitting lately. If you work from home or have been in lockdown for the past year like us, you’ve stopped walking from meeting to meeting, the lunchtime walks with coworkers have come to a halt, the grocery store visits have lessened, and you aren’t chasing after your kids at the park quite as much as you used to. Bottom line: you’re not moving as much (even if you’ve been able to muster up the motivation for your regular workout routine), which makes it even more imperative that we find ways to move throughout our day.
The Good, The Bad & The Painful
James A. Levine, M.D., PhD, and author of the book, Get Up!, published scientific research that states, “Excessive sitting is a common pathway that contributes to numerous chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and multiple types of cancer.” (mind-explosion-emoji!) On the bright side, he notes that sitting can be counteracted and that “upwardly mobile people could become healthier.” Since sitting is hard to avoid (especially during a pandemic where we find ourselves inches away from the couch at all times), we put together a list of simple ways you can fight the pain (and health risks) it causes.
1. Align Your Spine
Creating a physically comfortable workspace is important. According to Dr. Bang, a chiropractor, in a conversation with Cassandra Holloway from the Cleveland Clinic, if you can’t sit for long periods of time without being in pain, you should try standing (ergonomically) at your desk. Here are a few tips Dr. Bang offers to stand ergonomically:
●Keep your head over your shoulders
●Your elbows should be by your side at 90-degree angles
●Your shoulders should be in a resting position
●Keep your computers screen at eye level
2. Give Your Body Some Love with Massage
Sitting can cause your body pain that you might not even realize. According to an article published in Harvard Health, “Therapeutic massage may relieve pain by way of several mechanisms, including relaxing painful muscles, tendons, and joints; relieving stress and anxiety; and possibly helping to ‘close the pain gate’.”
3. Incorporate Stretching
With all of the extra sitting we’ve been doing coupled with our lack of movement our muscles are becoming less flexible which can constrict joint mobility and lead to pain in our backs. In an article written by Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD for Healthline, 8 stretches are noted to help relieve lower back pain.
2. Trunk Rotation
3. Cat-Cow Stretch
4. Pelvic Tilt
5. Seat Forward Bend
6. Flexion Rotation
7. Supported Bridge
8. Belly Flops
For step-by-step guides for each stretch, click here.
4. Take a Hike (or a Walk)
Dr. Bang notes that even if your desk is set up ergonomically, movement is still one of the best ways to stay away from pain caused by sitting. Since sitting can hardly be avoided, here are a few of our favorite ways to include movement into our days:
● Incorporate movement breaks into your day
● Take a break to walk around your house (or neighborhood) every 30 to 60 minutes
● Find an activity that makes you move (bonus points if you love it!)
● Instead of sitting down to talk, take your meeting or FaceTime while on a walk
● If you have a treadmill, stay in motion throughout the day by positioning your workspace above it
Sick of Sitting?, James A. Levine, NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4519030/
Ergonomics: Managing the Aches & Pains of Working From Home with Dr. Andrew Bang, Cleveland Clinic: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/podcasts/health-essentials/ergonomics-managing-the-aches-pains-with-dr-andrew-bang
Therapeutic Massage for Pain Relief, Harvard Health: https://www.health.harvard.edu/alternative-and-complementary-medicine/therapeutic-massage-for-pain-relief
8 Simple Stretches to Relieve Lower Back pain, Healthline, Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/stretches-for-lower-back-pain