Proper posture and the harms of sitting. “We should sit less, and we should sit better.” Author unknown. I don’t remember where I read this quote, but I keep it written on a whiteboard in my massage room here at the Pittsburgh Fitness Project. Anyone who walks into the room can read it and think about how the statement may positively affect them. Many clients come to me with sore muscles, stiff joints or just their entire body hurting. I quickly learned that many of these aches and pains come not only from activity but also from what we do outside the gym. We may spend an hour working out, but our bodies are subjected to the stress of how we carry ourselves throughout the rest of the day.
When I see clients, I ask them what they do for a living and what their job entails. Not to mention their work out and activity history. I want to know where and when it hurts so I can determine what hurts and why. Too often, a client’s work life is the culprit.
Harms of Sitting at Your Desk
Many of us sit at a desk and use a computer to do our day’s work. It’s not just the fact that we are sitting which causes issues but how we sit. Our posture and the type of chair we sit on can add to muscle soreness, numbness, and achy joints. With prolonged sitting, our body weight compresses our muscles, soft tissues, and circulatory system. The edge of the chair compresses our hamstrings and our shoulders start to slump from our arms maintaining extension in front of us. Our head and neck fall forward, adding the feeling of extra weight to our frame. These postures put our muscles into a constant stretch, and they start to tighten.
We can avoid these tensions by altering our sitting posture and the type of chair we use. Ideally, you should sit in a chair that keeps your back vertical. Your upper legs should sit horizontal or with a slight downward slant. Keep your knees aligned directly above your feet. Drop your shoulders and look straight ahead, raising your computer screen as needed. If your chair does not allow for this positioning, you can sit on a rolled up towel or place a small, firm pillow behind your lower back.
How Does Poor Posture Cause Back Pain?
When everything is properly aligned, the joints and muscles in your back easily share the burden of supporting your body weight. Poor posture disrupts this balance. Slumping forces the muscles and tendons in the lower back to work harder than usual. This raises the risk of sprains and strains. Poor posture can also cause unnatural wear between joints, potentially setting the stage for arthritis.
Massage Therapy is a team effort between the client and therapist. Each session is different because the intent of the massage will vary depending on what is happening in each client’s life. Here at the Pittsburgh Fitness Project, we specialize in sports and therapeutic massage. As a former nurse, Claudia understands not only human anatomy but also the human condition and disease processes that can lead to muscular imbalances.
Let Massage Therapy Help!
Proper posture and alignment take time and practice. Massage can help aids in correcting posture by releasing tight muscles and the surrounding soft tissues so they can begin contracting again. Massage increases blood flow and lymphatic drainage, aiding in muscle recovery. Best of all, it reduces your overall tension! If you need help with any musculoskeletal issues or would like to come in for a massage, try our 60-minute intro massage special for $50. And make sure to be on the lookout for Black Friday specials dropping soon!