Do you have sitting disease?

Feb 19, 2024
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Long hours at desk/computer jobs are wreaking havoc on our bodies. If you are suffering from neck and back pain, stress, anxiety, depression, you just might be suffering from "Sitting Disease" NW Wellness has solutions!

Has modern day life got you sitting at a desk on a computer for most of your work day?  Are you working on a laptop computer?  Do you commute in traffic to and from work?  Do you find yourself with neck, shoulder, upper back and or lower back pain?  Do you experience numbness and or tingling down one or both of your arms or hands?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have "sitting disease".  

Our bodies have what I like to call our "energy conservation system".  This system is the fascia that pervades the structures in our body and holds them in place.  Fascia surrounds our muscle fibers, muscles bodies, bones and organs.  This fascia is capable of memory as well.  This is what is referred to as "muscles memory".  It is actually fascia memory.  When we spend countless hours in the same position, and these days it is all too often a slouched seated position the fascia in our body locks this position into place to assist us with energy conservation.  Long hours at the computer with focused attention to looking at the screen, typing and using the mouse creates a disconnect from our physical body.  This coupled with the pull of gravity drawing us downward into a slouched position, and our physical senses directed out in front of us are the contributing factors to sitting disease which is a whole cascade of negative physical and physiological outcomes.

For hours at a time we find ourselves in the following position: 

  • Flexed and externally rotated hip joints (Psoas muscle and external hip rotator muscles, particularly the piriformis muscles contracted, sciatic nerve compression)
  • Flexed knees (Hamstring muscles contracted)
  • Sometimes legs crossed (Imbalance in the pelvis leading to misalignment of sacroiliac joints)
  • Posteriorly tilted pelvis (Pelvic floor and Gluteal muscles contracted)
  • Spine rounded posteriorly (Abdominal muscles shortened and contracted, Spinal muscles elongated and weakend, diaphragm compressed, Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids and Trapezius muscles overstretched and weakend)
  • Neck protruding forward (Some Neck muscles contracted while others are overstretched)
  • Shoulders rounded forward (Pectoralis muscles contracted, Shoulder Rotator Cuff muscles compromised)
  • Elbows flexed (Biceps muscles contracted, Triceps muscles overstretched and weakend)
  • Wrists moving laterally (leading to inflammation and carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Palms slightly flexed (Overly tightened Palmar fascia)
  • Fingers flexed (Tightened finger flexor muscles)

Physiological Changes due to Sitting Disease:

  • Compression of the diaphragm (leads to shallow and uneven breathing, which triggers an increased demand on the cardiovascular system as the heart attempts to distribute a decreased amount of oxygen to the body tissues and organs.  Long term oxygen deprivation can decrease the body's pH leaving a more acidic internal environment, and increases stress.)
  • Spine rounded posteriorly (leads to compression of the abdominal organs of digestion, compromising the body's digestive strength, and motility.  Also compromises the integrity of the spinal column, causing narrowing of the nerve root spaces which can lead to impeded nervous system communication, spinal inflammation and arthritic changes to the spine.  Also can lead to bulging or herniated discs in the spinal column.  And of course muscular and joint pain.)
  • Neck protruding forward (Can lead to Vagus Nerve compression which in turn can create negative effects upon the Cardiovascular System, Respiratory System, Digestive and Elimination Systems, also compression to the Vagus Nerve can perpetuate feelings of foreboding due to triggering the sympathetic nervous system - fight or flight.)
  • Shoulders rounded forward (Can lead to Thoracic Outlet syndrome which is a compression causing compromised vascular and or nerve communication down the arms.)
  • Long term effects of stress (Dwelling in the fight or flight part of our nervous system as a result of Sitting Disease, compromises virtually all of our body systems leaving us in a terribly depleted state of being, and vulnerable to a variety of other diseases and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.)
  • If you find yourself suffering from the issues of Sitting Disease, We have good news for you.
    Proper posture while working at the desk and computer is essential.  This takes practice and conscious attention in order to change the slouch habit. 
  • Set an alarm to adjust your posture at least once per hour.  
  • Set another alarm several times per day to stretch your body in the opposite direction. This can be as simple as clasping your hands behind your back and looking skyward.  Or you can do a short desk yoga sequence.
  • Regular massage therapy is a great benefit to release the myofascial binding that occurs from locking into a seated position for hours, weeks, months and years.  There are specific massage techniques directed to the various muscle groups listed above that can be applied to facilitate greater ease in the symptoms associated with sitting.  
  • Yoga Therapy is a tremendos antidote to this terrible set of circumstances. A Yoga Therapist, will assist in creating a sensible yoga practice to help you unwind the compensations set into the body from "Sitting Disease".  When the symptoms of compromised posture are resolved with these techniques and tools, greater ease is established in the body, availing you to an improved outlook on life, and more positive creative flow in all you do for work and play.