Sunday, December 5, 2021

How Long Do You Sit For?

When I first read this article, I could not imagine sitting for 4.5 hours at a stretch. Even with my recent accident, I did not sit longer than an hour. But then, I recall that it's fairly normal according to what my patients tell me, especially with most people who still work from home (WFH).  

Many patients tell me that with WFH, they end up sitting for hours at a go. We know that prolonged sitting is the new smoking, that prolonged sitting without regular movement may lead to low back pain, other musculoskeletal problems and other lifestyle diseases.

Back to what I read. Participants in that study sat for 4.5 hours in a controlled environment (see picture above) while researchers investigated how the participants fared with regular muscle contractions on muscle stiffness. These participants had neuromuscular electrical stimulation applied to the lumbar region of their back to simulate movement.

The results showed that prolonged sitting without regular movement significantly increase stiffness in our back muscles. This may explain why prolonged periods of chair sitting increase chances of low back pain. There was no mention that poor posture or slouching contributed to this.

The good news is that with regular movement (through regular muscle contractions), stiffness in your lower back can be prevented.

The researchers concluded that it is important that we move regularly and consistently throughout the day. 

If I had to be sitting in front of a computer, I will get up and move around as often as I can. Otherwise, I will do so with one or two trigger balls at my low back area (see picture right at the top) since it reminds me to move more frequently.


Kerr AR, Milani TL and Sichting F (2021). Sitting For Too Long, Moving Too Little: Regular Muscle Contractions Can Reduce Muscle Stiffness During Prolonged Periods of Chair-sitting. Front Sp Act Living. 03 Nov 2021. DOI: 10.3389/fspo.2021.760533

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