The most important risk factors for chronic sitters
Modern life is a seated affair: we sit to commute, to work, to relax and, increasingly, to recreate. We pass time seated flicking through our phones, eating meals with our friends and binge-watching Netflix series. The primary seated activities of reading, or simply watching television, have taken a back seat to the proliferation of devices that now occupy our hands and minds. What is the problem, you ask? Sitting is the worst position for the human spine- it places exponentially more downward pressure on your vertebrae than standing or lying down. And very few of us are conscious about our posture while we sit, meaning that the ill-effect is amplified that much more. There should be no equivocation: as a society, we are feeling the effects of all this sitting earlier and harder than ever before. So what should we do about all this sitting?
Healthy spinal curvature is essential
In a normal, healthy spine, there are three primary curves- one kyphotic curve in the thoracic segment; two lordotic curves in the cervical and lumbar segments. There is a further kyphotic curve in the sacral segment, but overall, the curves fit together to form a large S-shape. This curvature is absolutely vital for maintaining strength, structure and mobility in the upper body. The curves combine to:
- Maintain balance and flexibility
- Cushion and absorb stress
- Distribute forces across the upper body in a healthy manner
What’s more, healthy curves ensure that your central nervous system is able to communicate unhindered. Spinal curvature disorders develop in response to a number of factors, and can start as soon as early childhood. So what are the main types of spinal curvature disorders and how do they come about?
Our daily habits, rather than acute actions, are what set us up for pain
Many people are able to point to a time when they, “threw their back out,” or “cricked their neck,“ blaming a specific action like lifting or an excessive motion in sport on their injury. But the injury might not have happened in the first place if we had not already been practicing bad spinal health habits. These habits, highlighted below, are often subconscious, and form part of a chronic problem that contributes to back pain and leaves us vulnerable to injury. Read on to find out what habits we need to be aware of if we want to avoid back pain.
Movement in an office setting
Your office presents your body with more challenges than you know. A stiff neck or tension headache is just the tip of the iceberg for many office workers at the end of the day. The nature of office work is such that your body never has time to catch up with how little movement it does- we sink into a pattern of sedentation that becomes the new norm. This presents a particular challenge to our spine- as supportive tissues tighten and muscles atrophy from lack of use, your spine loses it’s main network of support. Tight tendons create a pull on the spine that results in vertebral misalignment and contributes to spinal degeneration. How do we break ourselves out of this cycle?
Is tennis as low-key as it seems?
Short answer: no. Though tennis is used by people of all ages to maintain a high level of fitness, it is generally considered a more gentle sport. But no matter the intensity that you play at, you are still performing a series of movements that cause unique stresses to your body. Lets take a look at the ways that tennis challenges your body, as well as a framework for treating your body that minimizes the risk for injury while maximizing performance on the court.