1 min read

Why our bottom is not designed to sit

By Eric Söhngen, M.D., Ph.D. on Feb 29, 2020 1:40:40 PM

Among all muscles, the glutes are distinct as we tend to care more about their physical appearance, especially with regard to the perception of our own attractiveness to others and our personal image of ourselves.

Studying the anatomy of the glutes, it becomes immediately clear that these muscle powerhouses were never meant to be squeezed between a chair and the weight of our upper body for hours on end. This starts with the skin. Areas of the body that are genetically designed to be in contact with the ground have a different skin composition. The best ex- ample are the soles of our feet, with calluses building up quickly and thick layers of brown fat cells to cushion the repetitive impact from walking. If the gluteal area had been designed to be in constant touch to the ground (or a chair), we would expect to see something comparable – yet nothing could be more different from the delicate skin of our buttocks.

Under the skin of the glutes lies a complicated layer of nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and bones that function in support of holding an up- right posture. In actuality, their continuously compressed state does the opposite and comes with its own unique set of issues.

When functioning properly, the glute muscles work with other muscles in the hips to help stabilise the pelvis. When shut off while seated, the body attempts to compensate for the instability through the use of oth- er muscles to keep the pelvis stable. This contributes to lower back and hip pain as the muscles that are in charge to flex the hip joint become tight and constantly pull the lower sections of the spine forward.

After years of abuse from sitting, the glute muscles can be damaged to the point that is referred to ‘gluteal amnesia,’ casually referred to as the‘dead butt syndrome,’ in which those muscles basically forget how to function due to lack of use, resulting in compromised blood flow and nerve damage. Take a moment to wake up your glutes and remind them on a daily basis how much you like and need them!

Topics: musculoskeletal
1 min read

Why Sitting Leads To Backpain

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

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.

Topics: musculoskeletal