No commute, no stairs to climb and certainly no need to take trips into the city to meet with colleagues, COVID means we have a reduced occupational need to move. Sitting is a pastime that really challenges the idea that practise makes perfect. The chances of sitting for more than 7 hours a day is a real possibility for people who find themselves adapting their homes to be able to work. Online meetings and video calls whilst the dog barks at the postman are all normal occurrences these days. It is entirely feasible that prolonged sitting could lead to changes in muscle properties and bony limitations of movement (1). As it has been shown that those who sit the longest lose the ability to extend the hip.
Hip extension is important for us to move around with in a fluid way, the hip enables us to get the power down and improve efficiency of motion. The closely related movement of internal rotation is next to be lost and it is this part of the hip that wears out first. If the hip hasn’t passed on the job of load bearing to the knee. The loss of hip extension movement was shown in those sitting for over 7 hours a day (1) and the pressure build up on the sit bones increases as the pelvis tilts backward (2). Having a correct back support can assist the back in taking a breather by reducing the load by a third (2). It is the insipidly accumulative nature of sitting that fools us into a false sense of security. As we sit supported in our expensive chairs our brains are happy but our body is deconditioning.
Think of the back rest as a rest! Otherwise enable yourself to sit on your sit bones and maintain an upright posture. Relying upon a support deconditions your muscles and weakens your co-ordination to a point where wear may overtake repair. Sitting on its own is not a bad thing it is the deconditioning of the body that gradually occurs that impacts upon our health. Spending more time inactive is unhelpful for the condition of the discs in the back. Those who move more have a greater repair of the fibrotic discs of the spine (3). Think of yourself like a memory foam mattress, how can your body spring back when you keep applying pressure to the same part of it. Day in day out…
For your back health get up and move around stretch your body in all different directions so that by the end of the day you have moved in all possible directions. This practise will help you to increase your daily motion. Standing side bends are really helpful at enabling a mobile lumbar spine to move. The stiffness of the lumbar spine is a felt sense as well as a biomechanical one. As we isolate ourselves we may see an increase in psychosocial disability, as forewarned by the Australian Government when social participation is reduced (4). Book in with Lee today help your body, postural knowledge and your social participation aka ‘face to face count’. Because backs can be psychosocial too.
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- Boukabache A et al (2021) Prolonged sitting and physical inactivity are associated with limited hip extension: A cross sectional study. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice 51 p.102282
- Moes N (2011) Unpublished Dissertation. Variation in Sitting Pressure Distribution and Location of the Points of Maximum Pressure with Rotation of the Pelvis, Gender and Body Characteristics. Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.
- Nobuyuki, S et al (2012) Physical Exercise Affects Cell Proliferation in Lumbar Intervertebral Disc Regions in Rats, Spine: 37 (17) p 1440-1447
- Australian Government. National Mental Health Consumer & Carer Forum (2011). Unravelling Psychosocial Disability, A Position Statement by the National Mental Health Consumer & Carer Forum on Psychosocial Disability Associated with Mental Health Conditions. Canberra: NMHCCF. p.17