Our physio team is treating record numbers of clients who have what is called 'Tech Neck' that is caused from prolonged device usage & poor posture.

Why is your posture so important when sitting at a desk?

Diagram-of-how-poor-seating-posture-can-cause-neck-and-shoulder-pain-that-a-Physio-needs-to-treat-a-female

At Switch Physio we are seeing more and more people with back pain and are presenting with very similar symptoms and the same type of question

 

“How did I hurt my back, I woke up with this pain?”

 

Our team shares the learnings we get from treating so many patients with different health scenarios, it helps us to discover trends or emerging health concerns. What we found was a very similar pattern where the people all had typical desk jobs. Australian’s spend most of their adult life in the workplace and for a large number of people, work involves sitting at a computer desk in an office. This means that more often than not we are sitting for 8 or more hours a day, more than 40 hours a week.

 

Here are the areas of health that his is impacting

  1. Poor posture and back pain
    The set up of the work desk and the length of time spent sitting have a huge role on the posture of the back. The longer we sit the worse our posture gets. Our endless use of devices and computers has forever changed they way in which we sit and interact. More often than not we are putting stress on our neck, upper back and lower back by the way we are sitting. Add to that the length of time we then stay in these positions. This repeated stress inevitably leads to back or neck pain!


  2. The poor old heart (Cardiovascular System)
    Prolonged sitting has been linked to high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and decreased energy expenditure all causing an increased risk in cardiovascular disease. The Link between poor health and prolonged sitting first started in 1950’s, where it was found that London bus drivers where twice as likely to have a heart attack. Prolonged sitting has shown to decrease the effectiveness of the heart to work. The more we move the more the heart has to work. This helps the cardiovascular system survive and reduce the potential for issues.


  3. Obesity
    Prolonged sitting involves very little to no energy expenditure throughout the day. If energy expenditure is less than energy put into the body from food and drink, then weight gain occurs. Jobs involving sitting for more than 8 hours a day burn less energy than more active jobs such as tradesmen. It is no surprise that prolonged sitting is linked to excessive fat levels, weight gain and obesity.


  4. Osteoporosis
    An increase in prolonged sitting decreases the amount of weight-bearing exercises such as walking or running. These weight bearing exercises are required to allow the bones to grow thicker, denser and stronger. Stronger bones = less risk of osteoporosis = less bone fractures


  5. Diabetes
    An increased risk of diabetes occurs because prolonged sitting slows the body’s metabolism. We don’t use as many muscles when sitting which leads to an increase in the risk factors of Diabetes 112% increase in the risk of diabetes with prolonged sitting.


  6. Mental Health
    The longer we spend our day sitting the higher the risk of depression, anxiety, stress and use of anti-depressant medication.


  7. Blood circulation
    By sitting we decrease the flow of blood around the body, there is no need for the body to work hard so it slows down. This can cause a number of problems including swollen ankles, varicose veins and even dangerous blood clots.


Why is correct posture so important?

So what happens when prolonged sitting is combined with poor posture?

 

Numerous studies highlight the relationship between prolonged sitting and poor posture with the development of back and neck pain. Due to poor posture while sitting, many individuals often adapt a more bent forward trunk position. This increases the pressure on the spinal discs and ligaments which can lead to back and neck pain from a number of sources.

 

Prolonged sitting often occurs with seated computer work. When combined with poor posture, there is an increased static loading of muscles and ligaments in both the back and neck. As a result of prolonged loading and stretching of the muscles and ligaments, individuals (such as yourselves) have an increased risk of developing muscular pain in the neck, shoulders and back.

 

The negative effects of poor posture and sitting are worsened with age as muscular strength naturally decreases as we grow older. As the muscles of the neck and back weaken, they are less capable of supporting the spine and the large amount of force that is placed on the spine every minute of the day. As a result, there is increased pressure on the ligaments and structures of the spine and may result in damage causing pain.

3 x habits to get into now

  1. Get up and move every 30-40 minutes. Set an alarm or reminder to make sure you get up and move.


  2. Don’t spend your lunch break at your desk. Use the time to get away from the computer or even exercise.


  3. Exercise Regularly, reverse the effects of sitting by exercising 30 minutes each day.
 
 
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JAMES BECERRA

JAMES BECERRA

An experienced physiotherapist located in Sydney and the General Manager of the Switch Health Group in Sydney.