Have you ever thought about how much you sit every day? You drive to work, sit at your desk for 6-8 hours where you might stand up for social breaks or maybe lunch. Then you drive home and you sit again after dinner and look at screens or read. How many of us are sitting for more than 8 hours a day?
Studies have shown that increased sitting decreases our ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat. We spend a lot of our days sitting whether it’s at work, doing homework, watching TV or spending time on our computers and for many people, commuting. There are no current recommendations on limiting sitting time, but we do know that we should be breaking up excessive sitting with some movement. In a 7 year study of almost 8000 people, it was found that any amount of activity was better than sitting. Swapping 30min of sitting for 30min of light-intensity activity (walking, house maintenance etc) would have 17% lower risk of death. Increase the intensity (jogging, cycling etc) and that jumps to 35% lower risk of death. However, maybe you’re busy and can’t do 30min in a row. That’s not a problem – 1-5min active breaks between periods of sitting also reduce risk of death. If you wear a smart watch, you’ll notice they’re set up to remind you to move every hour if you haven’t moved enough.
Sitting increases pain because it tightens the hip flexors and hamstring muscles and stiffen the joints. This impacts our gait and balance and makes simple activities more difficult. These tighter muscles also contribute to low back pain, and knee problems that many of us suffer with.
For adults, it’s recommended to try to avoid sitting constantly during the day. Stand when and where you can and if possible, move around as much as possible. For example, if you have the ability to stand while working try to set up a standing desk. If you’re taking a phone break, walk around and message friends instead of slouching in your chair. For families, try and limit screen time in the house to avoid excessive sitting and instead encourage activities that require you to move around. Stand up and stretch or do some jumping jacks during commercials or between episodes of your Netflix shows.
Acupuncture can help if you have back pain and are finding that it is negatively impacting your daily habits. The acupuncture points used help to stimulate the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These make an impact on the individual’s experience of pain as well as stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities.
Additionally, try out these 4 stretches that help open the hips and release the muscles that might be linked to your back pain: