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Why Sitting Leads To Backpain

By Eric Söhngen, M.D., Ph.D. on Feb 29, 2020 1:07:06 PM

Topics: musculoskeletal

Most of the muscular pain conditions from sitting results from ignorance of our core, which is a normally very well counterbalanced system of muscles, bones and structures that enable the rest of our body to maintain an upright posture when on our feet.

Simply put, after millions of years walking, we now spend most of the day sitting. When we sit – or more often, when we slouch – in a chair with back support, it removes the need for our abdominal muscles to remain active. As these muscles relax, the task of staying upright falls on the spine. The spine and supporting back muscles will do this job for quite a while, and by the time that it begins to cause consistent discomfort, damage has often progressed beyond the point of a cure and long-term pain sets in.

Sitting also changes the angle of the pelvis and hips, which work with the spine to create a strong, stable and upright posture that allows us to manipulate items with our hands, while standing or moving (Labelle et al., 2005; Roussouly & Pinheiro-Franco, 2011).

The spine is normally aligned in an S-like shape. When we begin changing the angle of the pelvis and hips by sitting for extended periods of time, we force the spine out of its usual shape and creating substantial shear forces at critical junctions, most prominent in the area of the cervical spine and lower back. It is by no coincidence that these are the very regions that are most affected by disc herniations and chronic back pain.

Eric Söhngen, M.D., Ph.D.

Written by Eric Söhngen, M.D., Ph.D.

Eric is Founder and CEO at Germany based treadmill desk manufacturer Walkolution.