Sitting at a computer is one of the worst things you can do for your back. Even with great posture, sitting puts the most amount of pressure on the discs in the lower back. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen to many people with great posture. Take a look at your co-worker in the next cubicle. I would bet they don’t have the best posture. The typical computer posture looks like this:
1. The head is forward – looks like the head is sliding off the body.
2. The shoulders are slumped forward.
3. The upper back is rounded into a small or, for some people, a large C.
If they have really bad posture then they will also have:
4. Slumped lower back also putting it into a C.
A posture like this is almost guaranteed to cause, at the very least, neck or back pain.
The human head weighs about 8 pounds but for every inch of forward translation 10 pounds are added to it. Picture yourself at the bowling alley holding an 18 pound ball outstretched with your arms. How long would you be able to hold the ball without your arms getting painful, cramping or tired? Probably not too long. But for some reason you are expecting your muscles at the base of the neck (arms) to hold your head (bowling ball) for 8 hours a day. These muscles are being overstretched and overused all day long. That is why they hurt at the end of the day. Over time this posture may lead to altered movement in the neck, disc degeneration(wearing down of the disc), arthritis and, at the worst, pinched nerves.
Your slumped shoulders eventually cause tightness in the front of the chest(pectorals) and weakness in the upper back between the shoulder blades. This leads to muscle imbalance and will cause the shoulders to be misaligned in the shoulder joint. One false move and you may end up getting shoulder impingement. I have had several patient have shoulder surgery due to the tendons tearing from rubbing over the misaligned bones for years on end. Seems silly to have an “injury” from sitting but it happens way too often.
The C-shaped curve in the lower back will first cause muscle tightness in the hip flexors, weakness in the back, loss of mobility in the spine and pain. If left untreated it may progress to disc degeneration, arthritis and pinched nerves.
Having proper posture is so much more that just looking good, it is will save the health of your spine. My next blog will give you stretches to do while at your desk to help with posture.
Yours In Health!