Here’s what you need to know:
- Bad posture can actively contribute to back/knee pain and headaches.
- A heavily sedentary (seated) lifestyle will cause muscle atrophy (wastage).
- ‘Just’ exercising sometimes isn’t enough to break negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
Bad posture and back pain
Back pain can be attributed to many things. Normally the right answer to dealing with any kind of pathological pain needs a multi directional approach. In most cases though, you can alleviate pain by looking at specific places that might be causing you trouble. Let me first mention that pain relief such as deep heat and paracetamol are not solutions, they are ‘time buyers’ and may give you a few hours of respite- but ultimately you will need to combat that pain sooner or later.
So how does posture make a difference? The spine is the strongest part of the body, mainly because it houses the Spinal chord and the central nervous system- but also because it is formed by several facets that work together to form a single unit. To effectively assess how our posture is affecting spinal health is to look at the top and the bottom- particularly when seated. The ideal position is to have the spine in a (mostly) straight line with the pelvis directly underneath and the ears in line with the shoulders at the top. Deviations from this cause muscles to be ‘short’ or ‘long’ which basically means they are changing their length to accommodate any bad posture there might be. Muscles will take the path of least resistance- think of them as a mould, if they are subjected to a particular position, over time they will ‘set’ to that position, sometimes painfully! Back pain in particular can be affected by the muscles of the lower back being moved and trying to compensate for a pelvis that is in a different position.
Negative effects of sitting
In the current world where most people will be sitting for the majority of the day- posture has become a huge niche for trainers and clients alike. Four or five hours of personal training in a week is fast becoming ineffective at combating the negative effects that sitting has on the body. Office workers that do manage to sneak out for an hour or during the day, or manage to go after work, are still then doing things that are reinforcing those negative effects of sitting. An example of this is a user who has a heavily sedentary career who then goes to the gym and only uses the bikes. This is beneficial on the obvious front of increasing the heart rate to encourage weight loss and blood pressure reduction, but this method of exercise will not combat the loss of strength and muscle definition that these kind of clients will suffer from.
‘Just’ exercising sometimes isn’t enough to break the cycle of negativity from being overly sedentary, you need to incorporate all aspects of physicality within your training, basically, use the whole body!