Sitting Is The New Cancer
I’s been said that “sugar is to the teeth what sitting is to the spine.”
It’s true. Sad, but true.
One of the main things that happens when we sit, is our postural muscles throughout our back begin to shut down.When that happens the weight of our upper body goes directly to the structure of our spine. Between a majority of the vertebrae in our spine, we have disks that act like shock absorbers. Under all the pressure of our upper body on our spine and disks, over time, our disks start to dehydrate and then degenerate.
Time and time again, we see individuals in my chiropractic practice who have had no prior symptoms or pain, and all of a sudden have to come in because their lower back has “locked up.” Their pain didn’t occur after some strenuous sporting activity or after painting the whole house, it happened after a simple task, like picking up a piece of paper off the floor.The X-ray reveals degeneration in the disks and joints of their spine. The deterioration all happened over time without pain.
The fact of the matter is, we weren’t designed to sit or look down at electronic devices all day. We were designed to move and move we must!
When we sit and work, at a computer for example, our shoulders tend to round forward. Over time, this shortens our pec muscles. Our pec muscles are what attach our sternum or breastbone to our shoulders. When those muscles become shortened our shoulders start to rotate forward.
The other thing that happens, especially when we sit for the majority of our day, is that we start to go into what is called forward head posture. It saddens me that I am seeing this developing more and more with kids even before they are 10 years old! It has a lot to do with time spent on electronics.
The time spent on our phones.
The time spent texting.
The time spent on video games.
Kids are sitting throughout the day in school and coming home to sit some more to do homework, play video games and use their electronic devices.
With forward head posture the chin shifts forward and the weight of your head begins to push down on your spine.
When we have forward head posture, if our head moves forward just one inch, that amplifies the weight of the head by 10 pounds on our neck and upper back!
Two inches of forward head posture with a 12-pound head is equal to 32 pounds of pressure through your neck and upper back.
Do you think this could be the cause of some of your neck pain?
Imagine if I gave you a bowling ball and I told you that you had to hold that bowling ball for two minutes. Would it be easier to hold that bowling ball straight up over your head or would it be easier to hold it out in front of you with your arms outstretched?
You would burn out pretty fast if you had to hold it out away from your body, because your mid and low back muscles and your arms would fatigue.
That is exactly what forward head posture does to the muscles in your neck and upper back.
I know it wouldn’t be exactly easy to hold the bowling ball over your head; however, what makes it easy for our body to hold our head upright, is that it was designed that way.
Our neck has a natural curve to it. From an engineering perspective, it is beautiful to see that as a weight-supporting structure, our neck curves or arches under the base of our skull to effortlessly support the weight of our head.
If we sit for too long and allow forward head posture to develop, over a period of time, it will cause a reversal of our natural curve in our neck.
If we begin to lose the natural weight supporting arc in our neck, it will first typically create a lot of muscular tension in the back of your neck, upper back and base of skull. It will even create tension headaches or pain into your shoulders.
Seriously, imagine that for a moment: the weight of a bowling ball shifting forward. The only thing that’s going to keep your chin from falling down to your chest are those neck, upper back and upper shoulder muscles contracting and working extra hard to keep you upright.
Since this condition develops over a period of time, you begin to get used to having tight muscles, so you don’t notice at first that your range of motion is lacking. You may slowly begin to notice that it’s more difficult to look left or right, look up or down, or bring your ears toward your shoulders.
Another thing you don’t feel at first, is that the loss of curve in your neck is putting strain on your spinal cord. This can negatively influence the messages being sent between your brain and body.
Having forward head posture, with the weight of your head distributed forward, can actually negatively influence your respiration — the amount of inhalation and exhalation that you can take with your lungs.
Your breathing will become more shallow.
Lung capacity can be decreased significantly.
Here is an extensive list of all the other symptoms that can develop with forward head posture:
- Chronic pain (neck, shoulder, upper, middle and lower back)
- Jaw (TMJ) dysfunction and tension along with clenching teeth
- Arthritis over time in the vertebrae and joints of the neck
- Nerve irritation from inflammation, along with the long-term possibility of disc degeneration and impingement from the vertebrae in the neck. This could lead to numbness or tingling in the arms or hands.
- Decreased range of motion
- Tension headaches and migraines
- Loss of overall height
- Muscle spasms along with sore and tight chest and neck muscles
- Mouth breathing/ sleep apnea
- Poor regulation of blood pressure