Sitting… Is It Really That BAD?

I bet you’re sitting down while reading this…

Whether you’re sitting in a coffee shop, you’re at work at your desk, lounging on your sofa after a long day, or sitting up in bed, you’re probably sitting comfortably while reading this. And I don’t blame you – sitting has become so normal in our daily lives that most of us (myself included), spend more time in a chair every day than we do sleeping.

Let me ask you this: Did you know that the average person spends 9.5 hours a day seated, and around another 7 asleep?


Well, if this sounds like you, you’re not alone – after all chairs are almost everywhere we turn…

From the seats in our car, to the office chair, to the sofa where we watch TV. Sitting seems like the most natural thing to do in the world, I’m sure you’d agree? However, what if I told you that sitting was actually worse for you than you thought? What if sitting all day brings on far more health issues than you could imagine? Just think about your typical daily routine for a second…

How many hours did you count that you spend sitting in a chair? If it’s 9, (or more), then you may want to consider making some small changes to reduce the risk of unwanted health problems creeping up on you. Here’s why – simply, our bodies are not designed to sit. If you think about it, hundreds and even thousands of years ago we spent most of our time standing. We were either hunting, gathering or traveling, and although we’re very lucky that times have changed and we no longer have to hunt for our food, a few modern ‘conveniences’ have actually made things harder for us.

Sitting is one of those conveniences that can cause all sorts of problems to our body when it’s done in excess (also known as the typical ‘sedentary lifestyle’).

When we spend a long time sitting down, this puts a lot of pressure on our lower back. While you might not realize it, as hours of sitting time gradually build up, and can result in health issues such as bad backs, tight and tense shoulder muscles and even painful, swollen knees.

As well as unwanted aches and pains, too much sitting can also weaken your muscles, can give you bad posture and even leads to weight gain.

So how can we fix this problem you might be wondering? Well, if we could all work with a standing desk that would certainly help, but I realize that’s not (always) going to be possible so one thing you can start doing today, is to get up every 30 minutes.

Set a timer on your computer, or keep an eye on your clock and get up and move. This could be a quick walk around the office, a walk to the printer or to grab drink of water. Simply get up and move! Any extra time spent being active is a bonus.

One of my patients, David, had a really great idea, he goes for 20 minute walks each morning before he heads to work which makes all the difference, and he even tells me it makes him feel more productive for the day!

So to sum it up – we’re creatures of habit, and our bodies are a result of those habits – getting up and moving more might feel hard at first, but do it enough and it’ll soon become second nature, you’ll feel healthier, more active and reduce the risk of back pain too.

IF you want some quick exercises to loosen up stiffness and feel better quickly, try watching these videos and let me know what you think: VIDEO 1 and VIDEO 2.

Dean Volk PT, MPT

Dean, graduated with a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy from Northern Arizona University and has furthered his studies with a number of post-graduate courses focusing on the shoulder, knee, and back, with a strong emphasis in manual therapy. He has completed all Levels (I,II & III) of training in Total Motion Release which has afforded him an excellent way to relieve pain and restore function quickly and effectively. With 20+ years experience in Physical Therapy, Dean has practiced in various orthopedic and sports focused clinical settings, in Phoenix, AZ, Charlotte,NC and most recently Charleston, SC. During his years of service, Dean has cared for a wide variety of clients: from school-aged children to retirees, from homemakers to business professionals, from weekend warriors to professional athletes.

Dean and his wife Trudy have 2 sons, Ben and Jesse who both graduated from the College of Charleston. Dean is an avid sports fan, enjoys spending time with his family and working with his clients to improve their lives.
Dean Volk PT, MPT

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