Sitting is the new smoking.
Pain in coccyx, knee pain, back pain: sitting on a chair for an extended time is one of the worst things you can do to yourself.
Sure, you’ve heard this before? Do you know why they say that?Because just like smoking, sitting ruins our body, even if we try to compensate and do good things for our health.
It does not make a smoker a non-smoker to do some sport or eat five fruits and vegetables every day.
In the same logic, sitting for an extended time damages the body, and no matter how many fruits and vegetables you eat, the damage caused by prolonged sitting is done.
So it’s true, we can move, play sports after work to compensate but we have to do 20 minutes of physical exercise to offset two hours of sitting down. That’s more than one hour of sport per working day: who does that?
The problem with prolonged sitting is lack of mobility, the failure to move, and…gravity.
Not only the lower back should support the weight of the upper body, but prolonged sitting decreases the flexibility of the flexor muscles of the hip, and here are 2 of the leading causes of low back pain among office employees.
World Health Organization says:
Physical inactivity (lack of physical activity) has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality (6% of deaths globally). Moreover, physical inactivity is estimated to be the main cause for approximately 21–25% of breast and colon cancers, 27% of diabetes and approximately 30% of ischaemic heart disease burden.
My knee hurts when sitting down.
People who suffer from Patellofemoral pain syndrome say they have sore knees after remaining seated for a while. This pain is caused by the lack of mobility and knee hurt, as if the ligaments inside had time to stick.
The pain is caused by the fact of moving again when trying to make it go away.
How to prevent knee pain when sitting down?
Use a ball or a foam roller as footrests: if legs move while remaining seated then knees won’t be blocked. The lower back also hurts less when using a mobile footrest when sitting down.
It’s not so much the sitting than the lack of mobility that promotes knee pain since the same sort of knee pain is also reported by some people standing in lines, just waiting and not moving
My coccyx hurts when sitting down or standing up.
Sitting down also promotes coccyx pain, often caused by unconsciously maintaining a poor posture or poor sitting position for a prolonged time.
If you sit on your coccyx, instead of sitting on your sit-bones, it won’t be long before the coccyx lets you know that it doesn’t appreciate that position.
The coccyx is actually not supposed to support the weight of the upper body and does not like the constant contact with the seat cushion. This will irritate it and an irritated coccyx, well, that hurts.
How to prevent coccyx pain when sitting down?
Well, avoid sitting down as much as you can, and if you really have to, sit on your sit-bones.
You can also use a coccyx cushion for sitting down: that works!
Sit bones (black arrows) & coccyx (red arrow)
My stomach hurts when sitting down.
Pain in the stomach while sitting is often reported by people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.
Stomach pain is caused by sitting in the office or car, which creates a compression of the belly, stomach, abdomen. When you sit, the upper legs push against the stomach, and for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, it’s a real problem.
The pain gets worse as the day goes by and the intensity of the pain varies, depending on how the person can deal with the stress caused by this situation.
How to prevent stomach pain when sitting down?
One thing that works quite well is to avoid wearing pants or a skirt too tight-fitting at the waist. A slightly loose clothing in soft textile is more practical in all circumstances, especially if you’re subject to frequent abdominal pain, or stomach pain. Standing and walking around and moving also help relieve these stomachaches.
Beyond back pain
It’s not just the back that may be damaged by regular and prolonged sitting.
In the U.S., studies conducted by various public health organizations have established fairly close links between some severe health conditions/diseases and prolonged sitting.
According to those studies, prolonged sitting is a risk factor for:
- developing cardiovascular diseases
- developing colon cancer
- becoming obese
- developing type II diabetes
- suffer from muscle atrophy
- sinking into depression
The damage to our health caused by prolonged sitting is ironic since we have to work to survive. But we work sitting down and this sitting down is just killing us not so softly