Sitting: the silent killer
Many Americans find themselves within the confines of a small office or cubicle the majority of their professional careers. Articles published in the Huffington Post and Forbes magazine suggest that “sitting is the new smoking” citing research from prestigious universities and Mayo Clinic. The Post takes the stance a sedentary work force leads to diseases of chronicity, namely diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer while Forbes and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine note that work productivity decreases the longer we sit. I would like to discuss the biomechanical implications that sitting for prolonged periods of time has on the body.
The two primary reasons patients enter our office can be grouped under two umbrella diagnoses…Upper Cross (USC) and Lower Cross Syndrome (LCS). UCS is characterized by overactivity of the muscles in the front of the neck and chest and muscles in the back of the neck and the upper shoulders being underactive. LCS follows suit with the muscles of the abdominal region and lower back and gluteal region as underactive, and the hip flexors as overactive. This muscular imbalance leads to a tug of war match between the two regions, most of the time leading to pain axially (in the spine). The bad news…sitting for prolonged periods of time causes and perpetuates these two conditions.
US News reports that approximately 86% of the American workforce sits up to 13 hours a day, after the article factored in TV time, surfing the Internet, reading, or just simply lounging. This means the mass majority of the United States is at risk for developing UCS & LCS; in our clinical experience, we often find signs of both in nearly every new patient we evaluate. The postural screen, movement analysis, and orthopedic assessment our doctors perform identify structural imbalances, and aids our team to come up with an appropriate plan of action for each of our patients.
The silver lining: UCS & LCS are highly predictable, and so are our patients’ outcomes. Through active care, the poor postural patterns are typically broken and repaired, meaning the muscular imbalances are addressed. Through regular maintenance or preventative care, we are able to keep our patients in a healthier balance and keep tabs on the tendency to “re-pattern”. Sit to stand desks can be a wonderful supplement to help fight against UCS and LCS, as can specific home stretches and strengthening programs. However, I believe preventative chiropractic care plays the largest role in keeping our bodies functioning at optimal levels.
We have used other active work stations such as exercise ball chairs and sit-discs, but our team is super excited about the sit to stand desks in our billing department and at our front desk. Sit to stand workstations give people the opportunity to move about their workday promoting healthy circulation, proper biomechanics, and a relief from the monotony of sitting for hours on in. Your employer will appreciate the increase in production: your back will thank you for years on in.
Dr. Curt Kippenberger