Sit All Day? Try These Simple Exercises to Relieve Pain & Improve Posture

Do you have back, neck, hip or other pain associated with long bouts of sitting?  If so, you're not alone.  Low back pain is a leading cause of disability world wide.[1]

According to stats reported in the American Chiropractic Association [2]:

  • Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010.
  • One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
  • Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work.  In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
  • Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
  • Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain—and that’s just for the more easily identified costs.
  • Experts estimate that as many as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in our lives.

Sitting is now been labeled as "the new smoking".  Prolonged bouts of sitting hunched over is not only a recipe for back pain, but is well documented [4] to be associated with both physical and systemic problems.  

Because prolonged bouts of sitting limits activity and motion, the body ends up adapting to the static position it is most often in.  This results in loss of flexibility, strength, and endurance, and results to poor posture and musculoskeletal pain.  Systemically, this can increase a person's risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

One of the biggest problems I see in individuals who come in to work with me  is that they know they should be exercising to off-set the systemic issues.  However, what they don't understand is that exercise alone does not unravel the effects of posture change and muscle imbalances.  

What this means is that without making a concerted effort of work on establishing good posture and correcting imbalanced muscles and joint position, a person will take those imbalances into exercise.

And that is why people still hurt or end up with repetitive injuries.  Even though they are doing the right thing by exercising, an imbalanced body moving at a faster pace with poor mechanics is an injury waiting to happen because we work through compensations to get the desired motions.

One of the easiest ways to combat this is to implement an action plan.  Taking the time to learn and consistently do a few key posture restoring corrective exercises each day at your desk can help alleviate the chronic pain associated with prolonged sitting AND help restore proper body alignment.  The result?   You are much more aware of your posture and more likely to set up and correct your position throughout the day, AND far less likely to injure yourself when you go out to exercise at a later time, 

I'd like to introduce some very simple corrective exercises that you can do at your desk periodically throughout the day (no sweating or special clothing required).


 

These exercises are certainly generic in nature but can go quite a long way to help alleviate some common muscle and joint position imbalances.  If you've tried them, but find they aren't giving you the relief you need, you may require a specialized program that is designed uniquely for you.  that's where partnering with a certified professional well who specializes in corrective exercise and posture restoration can help.  

Remember.  You are not a collection of body parts, symptoms and pains.  Your body works as a whole and should be addressed as such.  You can heal, and recover with the right program in place.

I hope you enjoyed this posture correcting exercises, and regularly put the them into active practice.  Better yet, if you found them helpful, please share!  We love to hear from our readers!  

 

References:

  1. Healthday:  Low Back Pain Leading Cause of Disability Worldwide
  2. ACA Today: Back Pain Facts and Statistics 
  3. TED 2013:  Nilofer Merchant says sitting is the new smoking
  4. Why Sitting Is Bad For You

 

Stock Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Head Photo Credit:  Melissa Thome Photography

Author:  Deb Preachuk is the founder/owner of Pain Free Posture MN.  A CF-L1 Trainer, Certified Foundation Training & STOTT Pilates Instructor, Corrective Exercise & Posture Alignment Specialist, Deb has over 25 years experience in the health and wellness field.  You can follow her on Facebook, TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn, or subscribe to her YouTubePinterest or Instagram pages.