Chances are that you spend a lot of your day at a computer for work and recreation. In fact, a recent study found that 86% of Americans sit for their jobs and that the average person sits for 13 hours a day. Sitting has been called the new smoking by many health care professionals due to its link to several preventable diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to address this problem. Although people report that they’d prefer to stand, this can also be tiring for a full work day and lead to other health problems. The proliferation of standing desks and adjustable monitors have helped people have more control over their workstations and posture. But what could make it better? A chair that supports your spine’s natural curves whether you’re sitting, standing, or leaning.
What is Your Spine Supposed to Look Like?
If you look at the side view of a “normal” spine, it appears “S” shaped. The spine’s natural curves give the body support and house the spinal cord in a way that allows adequate shock absorption while maintaining stability. When these natural curves are maintained, our back’s tissues, such as the ligaments and muscles, can also be optimally utilized.
What Happens When We Change the Curve of our Back from Prolonged Sitting Positions?
The postures you assume during the day greatly impact the amount of strain put on your spine. Spend enough time in one posture and the body will adapt to it even if it isn’t ideal. This is really terrible if we’re talking about someone who may have osteoarthritis too.
Do you ever find yourself hunched over your desk staring at your monitor? That’s what we’re talking about. All of a sudden the nice “S” curves of your back turn into a sad looking “C.”
Looking at a picture of the spine in various positions, it becomes clear that extended slouching (lumbar flexion) and sitting are hard on the spine due to the high level of force on the discs. While some bending and leaning is normal for the back in small infrequent doses, the spine is not meant to endure these high levels of pressure for extended periods of time.
In fact, a 2010 study found that extended time in increased lumbar flexion leads to excessive strain and stretching of the low back ligaments and increases anterior shearing forces of the joints. Which is to say, your mother was right when she told you not to slouch.