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Sitting is the new smoking: Stand up for Your Back & Joints

by Judith Tobey

Do You Sit for Prolong Periods of Time?

Sitting for prolonged periods of time can be a cause of neck, back and joint issues. Increased stress of the back, neck, arms and legs and can add a tremendous amount of pressure to your muscles and spinal discs.


How Sitting Hurts Your Back, Neck and Joints
Spending much of your day in a seated position can leave your spine sore, stiff, and in pain. Plus, the longer you stay seated, the more likely you are to let your posture slide. Slouching and poor posture can put strain on your spinal discs. In addition, while sitting, we are often working on a computer or writing at desks that results in a forward head position, rounded shoulder posture—aka “poor posture syndrome.”


A Few Helpful Tips…

  • Be mindful of your posture, sit tall in your chair, your feet flat on the ground about hip-distance apart, with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Set a timer on your computer for a stand-and-stretch break every 30 minutes, focus on a point 20 feet or further to give the small muscles of your eyes a rest.
  • Add the “4 soothing chair stretches” listed below to your day.
  • Use a sit-stand desk if available.
  • Rather than having a sit down meeting, invite your coworkers to take a walk during your discussion.
  • Visit a co-worker in person as opposed to emailing them.
  • Park your car a bit further from your office to sneak in some extra steps.
  • Take a short walk during your lunch break.
  • FYI We burn 30% more calories when we are standing than when we are sitting


4 Soothing Chair Stretches


1) Neck and Upper Back Stretches
While sitting with good posture gently and slowly turn your head to the left, hold for a few seconds, then gently and slowly turn your head to the right, hold for a few seconds. Clasp your hands behind your head, slowly bring your elbows backward and repeat a few times to loosen up your upper back


2) Hip, Joints & Lower Back Stretch
White sitting in your chair, cross your right ankle over your left knee. Keep your back as straight as possible, hinge at your hips, slowly bend forward. If you like, you can even apply a little light pressure on the right thigh to deepen the stretch, as well. Hold the stretch for about 20-60 seconds to stretch your right hip. Then switch sides.

3) Reach for the Sky Stretches
Sitting tall, clasp your hands in front of you and rotate your palms away from you, this will give you an added wrist stretch. Bring your arms overhead, reaching your spine tall. Then reach your arms slightly to the right and then to the left. While sitting with good posture place your right hand on your left thigh, then slowly raise your left arm over your head, and gently stretch to right for 5-10 seconds. Then switch sides, place your left hand on your right thigh, then slowly raise your right arm over your head, and gently stretch to left for 5-10 seconds.


4) Spinal Twist
Maintaining good posture, sit tall, keep your hips square, rotate your torso to the right gently. Grasp the chair armrest or back of your chair with your right hand. Place your left hand on the outside of your right thigh to help you rotate. Always think of lengthening your spine and getting taller as you twist. Hold for 10-20 seconds, and then rotate to the other side.

The focus is simple: Reduce your sitting throughout the day. But, remember that varying postures is best for your back, neck and joints. So don’t go to the opposite extreme and never sit. Mixing sitting, standing, and movement throughout your day is the best way you can keep your spine safe and body healthy—at work and beyond.