CareNow® - February 19, 2024

Sitting for prolonged periods has become a common aspect of modern lifestyles, leading to various health concerns, including lower back pain and leg discomfort. Recent research showed that people who sat for more than eight hours daily without any outside physical activity had a risk of dying much like those who were obese or smoked.

If you find yourself sitting more than you’d like throughout the day, keep reading to find effective ways to alleviate lower back pain from sitting too long, understand the concept of a sedentary lifestyle, delve into the negative effects of prolonged sitting, and learn the importance of standing up from your desk regularly.

Is Sitting Bad for You?

The negative effects of prolonged sitting extend beyond just physical discomfort. Research indicates that sitting for extended periods can contribute to various health issues, including:

  • Lower back pain: Sitting for too long can strain the lower back muscles and lead to chronic pain.
  • Leg pain: Prolonged sitting can cause stiffness and discomfort in the legs. Poor circulation and reduced muscle activity contribute to leg pain from sitting too long.
  • Cardiovascular issues: Sitting for long periods has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Lack of movement hampers blood circulation and may lead to heart-related problems.
  • Weight gain: Sedentary behavior is associated with weight gain and obesity. Lack of physical activity can contribute to an imbalance in energy expenditure, leading to excess weight.
  • Muscle degeneration: Prolonged sitting can contribute to muscle degeneration, as certain muscles are underutilized, leading to weakness and atrophy.

What Is a Sedentary Lifestyle?

A sedentary lifestyle is characterized by prolonged periods of sitting or inactivity. In today's digital age, many people spend extended hours working at desks, using computers, or engaging in activities that involve little to no physical movement. The lack of physical activity associated with a sedentary lifestyle can have significant health implications, including back pain.

CareNow® urgent care clinics offer comprehensive services for back pain. With a focus on minor injuries and illnesses, our medical providers offer expert medical treatment for conditions such as muscle strains and ligament sprains. We’re open seven days a week, ensuring convenient access to professional medical providers for your back-related concerns.

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How to Fix Lower Back Pain From Sitting

Sitting for extended hours, especially with a slumped posture, can lead to negative effects on your trunk muscles, causing discomfort and potentially contributing to lower back pain.

Ergonomic seating

Invest in an ergonomic chair that supports the natural curve of your spine. Proper lumbar support is crucial in minimizing stress on the lower back.

Regular stretching

Incorporate regular stretching exercises to improve flexibility and relieve tension in the lower back and legs. Simple stretches like the cat-cow stretch and hamstring stretches can be done throughout the day.

Correct posture

Maintain proper posture while sitting. Sit back in your chair with your feet flat on the ground and your knees at a 90-degree angle. Avoid slouching to reduce strain on the lower back.

Take breaks

Stand up and move around at least once every hour. Set reminders to stand, stretch, or take a short walk to break up long periods of sitting.

Strengthen core muscles

Engage in exercises that strengthen the core muscles, as a strong core provides better support for the lower back. Include exercises like planks and bridges in your routine.

How Often Should You Stand Up From Your Desk?

Breaking up prolonged periods of sitting is essential for overall health. Experts recommend incorporating regular movement breaks, using standing desks, and staying active outside of work to promote a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways you can improve your daily habits.

  • Every 30 minutes: Stand up, stretch, or walk around for at least 5 minutes every 30 minutes of sitting.
  • Use a standing desk: Consider using a standing desk to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
  • Incorporate movement: Find opportunities to move, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or opting for a short walk during breaks.
  • Stay active outside of work: Engage in regular physical activity outside of work hours, such as walking, jogging, or participating in fitness classes.

Addressing lower back pain from sitting requires a multifaceted approach, including ergonomic adjustments, regular movement, and targeted exercises. Learning the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle will help you understand the importance of incorporating physical activity into your daily routines. By adopting healthy habits, you can mitigate the risks associated with prolonged sitting and promote overall well-being.

Tips for Sitting Less at the Office

Many people spend a significant portion of their workday at their desks, in meetings, on calls, or generally inactive. Research indicates that fewer than 20% of Americans have jobs that involve regular physical activity. 

Integrating exercise into a busy work routine can be challenging, but the following strategies can help promote movement throughout the day:

  1. Take regular breaks: Stand up and move around for a few minutes at least once every hour.
  2. Phone calls on your feet: Opt to stand while talking on the phone to add movement to your routine.
  3. Explore ergonomic options: Inquire whether your company provides stand-up or treadmill desks for a more active work environment.
  4. Choose stairs over elevator: Whenever possible, use the stairs instead of relying on the elevator for a quick and beneficial workout.
  5. Utilize breaks for walking: Make use of breaks or part of your lunch hour to take a stroll around the building, incorporating physical activity into your day.
  6. In-person communication: Instead of sending emails, consider standing up and walking to a colleague's office for face-to-face communication.
  7. Active meetings: Explore the idea of "walking" or standing meetings with co-workers as an alternative to traditional seated conferences.

Whether you’re struggling with back pain or looking to create healthier habits, consider visiting your local CareNow® urgent care clinic. We’ve got more than 225 locations throughout the country —most open after hours and on the weekend.

With a network of clinics, Web Check-In® convenience, and UCA accreditation, CareNow® stands as a reliable choice for comprehensive and accessible healthcare. To find the clinic nearest you, be sure to visit our website.

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