Sitting at a desk | Bergen Family Chiropractic Center | Hackensack, NJ

Surprising Way Your Desk Job Is Impacting Your Health

We do way more sitting than we used to.

Early civilization relied on survival of the fittest. People hunted for food and eluded predators to survive. As society changed and we moved indoors, we still worked face-to-face with people and were active throughout the day. Today, though, the Internet has changed everything. People can do their work from the comfort of their desk chairs. One study showed that the average worker is spending more than six hours out of an eight-hour day sitting, with more than thirty minutes before getting up. It may make it easier to be successful, but there’s a cost to our health when we spend so much time sitting at a computer. When you know the effects of your desk job, you can start to take action to prevent health problems.

The Unexpected Effects of Your Desk Job

Aches and pains are a well-known part of having a desk job. The average office worker experiences musculoskeletal pain, including neck pain, shoulder pain, wrist and elbow pain, back pain, knee pain, ankle pain, and even foot pain. The pain robs people of satisfaction and the ability to pay close attention to their jobs. The pain causes frustration and stress, which then has further effects on the body. But along with these well-known aches and pains, your desk job has unexpected negative effects that can hamper your overall health and wellness.

Sitting for hours at a desk has been associated with increased risks for heart attacks, obesity, cancer, diabetes, and premature death. These are serious and long-lasting effects that come from simply doing your job. Those risks don’t come with musculoskeletal pain, so where do they come from? The answer is in the way you sit.

The natural, healthy spine provides support to the body in an S shape. The S-shape of the spine is built for maximum strength and stability to support the body’s movements. However, when you slouch at the computer, your spine contorts into a C-shape for most of the day. This unnatural position changes the way the body works, which increases risks of health problems. Three serious health problems that can come from sitting at your desk all day are reduced blood flow, weakened muscles, and reduced lung capacity. These effects can then lead to more serious problems to your health and wellness.

Reduced Blood Flow

By slouching in a seat for most of the day, you reduce the blood flow throughout your body. This can lead to cell damage from lack of adequate blood flow. As a result, you run the risk of higher blood pressure, headaches, and heartburn, among other health problems. On the minor end of the spectrum, you may start experiencing cold hands and feet due to inadequate blood supply. On the serious end of the spectrum, you could be at higher risk of a heart attack because your circulatory system isn’t working the way it should, all because you’re spending too much time slouched at your desk.

Weakened Muscles

Sitting all day, especially with a C-shape spine, weakens the muscles normally used to carry your body upright. Weakened muscles can make it harder to take good care of your body, leading to obesity and other problems. In addition, weakened muscles can lead to weakened pelvic floor muscles, which can cause bladder leakage. The weakened muscles can also impact your sex life. These weakened muscles occur because of the extra pressure put on the pelvic floor when you sit with a C-shape spine throughout the day.

Reduced Lung Capacity

When you sit at a desk all day, your tendency is to sit with your shoulders rolled forward. This position constricts the diaphragm so you can’t take a full, deep breath to completely fill the lungs. That means you’re not getting enough air while you’re working. Reduced lung capacity can increase fatigue, reduce your ability to concentrate, and increase feelings of irritation. Overall, you won’t feel good and you’ll have trouble getting your job done.

How You Can Fight Back

You might not be able to change your job to keep from sitting at a computer most of the day. But there are things you can do to counter the negative effects of sitting all day in the office. Two good ways to keep yourself health is through intentional stretching, which can be done by incorporating the 3-minute matrix into your daily routine.

Intentional Stretching

Intentional stretching is a way to stretch and use specific sets of muscles to promote health and combat the effects of your desk job. When you’re working an office job, intentional stretching means setting time throughout the day to stretch your body. Ideally, you will get up from your seat and move around every thirty minutes. Even if you can’t walk around the office every half hour, intentional stretching moves your body, gets your blood and oxygen pumping, and helps reduce risks of health problems.

You may not have a choice about how much time you spend in front of your computer every day. But that doesn’t mean you have to let your job have a negative impact on your health. Instead, you can take control of your health through intentional stretching and counter-balancing the hunching and slouching that causes aches and pains every day.

The doctors at Bergen Family Chiropractic Center can help overcome the damage to your health brought on by chronic sitting. To talk with our doctors about how an adjustment can work for you, as well as how we can help your overall health and wellbeing, call our offices today and make an appointment!

About the Author Dr. Richard Santucci

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