Does sitting all day in various positions cause issues and affect the body? The quick and short response is, yes in certain ways, they do.
Every day in the clinic, our patients will explain how they sit, and what they do to set their bodies up to feel comfortable.
You will hear them mention, they try not to slouch, sit too far back in the chair, sit to close, cross their legs, use a foot stool.
In this post, we will take a detailed look at how different sitting positions can have different effects on the body.
So not all sitting positions are created equal unfortunately. There is no perfect seating position. Sitting in a slouched or flexed position is considered the most damaging position for the lower back/lumbar spine. This is generally because a slouched sitting position has the same effect as being in a bent-forward position, which gets uncomfortable fast.
Sitting too close to the monitor or laptop can cause rounded shoulders, kyphosis, and huge pressure on the neck region/cervical spine.
When standing, you are not usually aware of extra physical work versus when sitting because it feels like a relaxed position. However, if we sit in a flexed-crouched position, the back portion of the fibres of the annulus (the tough exterior of the intervertebral disc) are put under pressure.
This jelly-like material in the disc gets pushed backwards more and more. This is then sustained for a long period, which may end up damaging the fibres of the annulus. This can lead to a disc protrusion; the material pushes out to the outer annulus and results in compression on the nerve on the side of the bulge.
People may often then choose to sit on a sofa, which now leaves it hard to control your spinal position. Now you can and will find relief but this is only temporarily and short term, and like sitting in the flexed position, if sustained for many hours and ends up becoming constant on a daily basis, this will eventually develop into a negative effect.
While sitting, overarching adds pressure in different areas and is therefore not the same as being seated in a bent position.
When you over arch the back and end up in an extended position with what is an increased hollow, this will cause pressure on the facet joints and or the central part of the joint, also known as the spinous process. The facets all have ligaments, all which have sensitive nerve endings.
When you sit in an overly extended position, now it is not the disc that is under pressure but the posterior joints. It is worth noting they can equally be as sore and it is often one way that causes pain to develop.
Therefore, an overly arched position can cause a different type of pain and possibly stimulate pressure on the nerve. Many people who get pain from slouching benefit if their chair has lumbar support which allows them ease into an extended position. This can help people whose pain comes from a slumped position but such chairs may not help people who sit in an overarched position. We will look at other areas to help this again
Concluding even in optimal situations, the muscles in your back start to get fatigued after a short period and that ends up increasing the pressure in the joints too. This is the reason why such stools and sitting unsupported is not recommended. Health and safety requirements and ergonomic chairs can be very useful as they provide proper back support with a lumbar role that keeps the back in a more upright position to try and reduce pressure on the discs.
Sitting slouched is more damaging than sitting upright. Also, an overly extended position may cause problems for other structures in the long run.
Please Read this other blog on The Dreaded Back Pain