Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

How your work is giving you back pain

Rajkumari Tankha | September 28, 2016 3:40 am Print
According to a study, of all the patients of back pain, over 40 per cent are the ones who spend long hours on computers
Prolonged sitting posture : Its harmful after effects

Does your job require you to sit on your work station for long periods of time? If yes, it’s time you get worried about it and take steps to interrupt your prolonged sitting sessions with some sort of physical activity, even as small an activity as a two-minute walking per hour will benefit.

“It’s not just sitting in front of the TV that is harmful. One should be wary of any extended sitting.
Any prolonged sitting is harmful,” says Dr Rajneesh Kapoor, senior interventional cardiologist, Medanta Medicity, Gurgaon, “and it causes a number of health problems”.
“Studies show that even daily work out session cannot replace the damage prolonged sitting does to your body,” he adds.

Perils of prolonged sitting

Strained neck, sour shoulders: When you work for long hours on computer sitting on your desk, craning your neck forward toward a keyboard can strain the cervical vertebrae and lead to permanent imbalances.



Back Problems: Sitting puts a lot of pressure on the spine than standing. Back is hit worst when you are sitting hunched in front of a computer. According to a study, of all the patients of back pain, over 40 per cent are the ones who spend long hours on computers.

Muscle Degeneration
When you are sitting for long, the abdominal muscles remain unused, leading to weak abdominals.

Hip Problems: Prolonged sitting makes hips tight and limited in range of motion because they are not being extended.

Varicose Veins: Sitting leads to poor circulation in the legs which can cause swelling in ankles, varicose veins and blood clots.

Weak Bones: Lack of activity makes bones weak and may lead to osteoporosis. Walking, running, and engaging in other weight-bearing activities lead to stronger, denser bones.

Heart diseases: Prolonged sitting is linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. People with the sedentary lifestyle are twice as likely to have heart diseases as compared to others.

Diabetes: Pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that carries glucose to cells for energy. But cells in idle muscles don’t respond as readily to insulin, which can lead to diabetes and other diseases.

Obesity: Sitting puts your metabolism to sleep. Even an hour of daily exercise cannot counteract the negative health effects of sitting.

Cancer: Excessive sitting may increase the risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. The mechanism isn’t known for certain, but it could be due to excess insulin production, which encourages cell growth. On the other hand regular movement boosts antioxidants in the body that eliminate potentially cancer-causing free radicals.

Digestion: Sitting down after you’ve eaten causes your abdominal contents to compress, slowing down digestion. This, in turn, can lead to cramping, bloating, heartburn, and constipation etc.

Brain Damage
The brain function slows down when the body is at rest for too long. During sitting the brain gets less fresh blood and oxygen, which are needed to trigger the release of brain- and mood-enhancing chemicals.

The Solution

  • Start by standing rather than sitting whenever you have the chance.
  • Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch.


  • Walk laps with your colleagues rather than gathering in a conference room for meetings.
  • Walk across the hall to talk to a coworker instead of sending an email.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator to reach your office.
  • Park your car further away from the entrance of your office building.
  • Take a longer, roundabout way to your desk.
  • Do not keep everything within your easy reach. Keep things like telephone, printer etc away from your desk so that you have to walk for it.
  • Use an upright wooden chair with no armrest. Such a chair will force you to sit up straight, and also encourage shifting your body more frequently than a cushy office chair.

The impact of movement, even leisurely one, is profound. You burn more calories and the muscle activity needed for standing and other movement triggers important processes related to the breakdown of fats and sugars within the body.


Rajkumari Tankha
Rajkumari Tankha
The writer is a Delhi-based journalist. She has previously worked for Ministry of I & B (Govt of India), Hindustan Times and Special Audience Publications.