One aspect the talk did not touch on was how, for all you weekend warriors out there, it can contribute to sports injuries too!!! I see many patients who, despite their active lifestyles, end up with injuries that are partially related to spending the majority of their day sitting at a desk or in a car.
One structure prolonged sitting puts strain on is the intervertebral disc. Over time sitting can lead to a weakening of the outer fibrous layers or annular fibers of the disc. Then if you participate in an activity where there is lots of forward bending, such as volleyball or hockey goaltending, putting further strain on the disc, you may end up with a herniated disc. In addition, because these annular fibers are angled, sports with forceful unidirectional twisting such as golf or softball may also lead to herniation when the disc is in this weakened state.
Prolonged sitting also leads to muscle imbalances which can in turn contribute to injury. Hip flexor tightness can lead to ITB friction syndrome, tight pecs and weak scapular muscles can lead to rotator cuff impingement, tight hamstrings can lead to hamstring tendon issues... you get the idea.
So what can you do about it? Its not like you are going to quit your job. Here are a few hints to try to minimize the negative effects of sitting:
- get up and walk as often as you can during your work day
- try not to adopt poor posture while you are sitting (see the picture above!!)
- try to pick activities that are not in the sitting position after sitting all day- or modify so that you aren't sitting as much - for example walk the course instead of sitting in a cart, pick an upright bicycle instead of leaning forward
- keep yourself fit outside of your sport participation - stretching and strengthening will help keep you in the game!
Pictures courtesy of Google Images