In our increasingly work-from-home and work-via-computer society, there are extremely prevalent issues that get increasingly common because of the larger amounts of sitting and time spent over keyboards, using a computer mouse, or using cell phones.
Most people have heard of the conditions of lumbar pain or low back pain, sciatica, and then other issues such as text neck or even things like tendinitis of the thumbs from excessive phone typing.
The Surprising Demands of Office Work on Posture and Body Health
At Evo Performance Rehab, we work with people in these office work situations and their own set of demands on their bodies. If one thinks that doing a workout or playing sports is demanding, it is very demanding in a slightly different way to hold appropriate posture for your body for an extended period of sitting.
Think of a long airplane flight or a long office set of meetings and how, over time, your body slouches and your posture changes. The integrity of your posture and the muscles that your body chooses to use to support you will either help you continue to be healthy, strong, flexible, and pain-free, or they can push you toward developing chronic pain.
Spine-Related Injuries from Poor Sitting Habits
At Evo, some examples of office work injuries or work-from-home office injuries are spine-related issues from chairs that force inappropriate sitting positions, where people end up with pain and even scoliosis.
Types of spinal curvature result from sitting in an awkward position for too long, such as crossing your legs the same way every time you sit on a zoom call or leaning to one side when you use the mouse day in and day out. These patterns become ingrained in the body and then let go less and less as we move throughout our normal day outside of work.
Treating Pandemic-Related Physical Issues
Many people during the pandemic, being forced to do more and more activities from computer screens, developed significant issues with their neck, wrist, shoulder, and low back. At Evo Performance Rehab, when we have clients come in for these types of issues, our approach is somewhat similar to how we would approach an acute injury or even a sports injury.
The person is experiencing pain in their lower back, for example, but the muscles that the body is choosing to avoid supporting could be in their legs, hips, or even their shoulder blades. Wherever the actual dysfunction is, the symptom and the overworking area are in the low back for this person.
Evaluation and Re-integration for Optimal Movement and Posture
At Evo Performance Rehab, during a neurotherapy evaluation treatment, we screen the person's movement and then perform a neurological search process, which helps us pinpoint exactly where there are areas in the body that are inhibiting their normal ideal function.
Once we locate these areas, we then work to re-integrate those areas back into movement and posture support, which then allows the body to essentially return to the blueprint it was designed to optimally have for sitting or other basic tasks.
If the body is using the right muscles for the right jobs and is reintroduced to how to support itself and strengthened to stay that way, people who have struggled with sitting or other issues for years can overcome them very quickly.
Risks of Intense Activities for Sedentary Individuals
Oftentimes, it is a deficit in strength in specific areas of the body that leads to guarding and pain. When we have someone who significantly underuses their adductors or hamstrings, for example, it is very common for them to round their hips backwards when they sit.
This is a negative feedback loop because the more rounded the low back gets, the more the low back has to work, and the less work the legs get, the less activity and strength they will continue to have. So going forward, the back is perpetually overworking and the legs are perpetually underworking, which builds a cycle of getting tighter and tighter and more and more painful.
We also caution people who do sit for a significant amount of time each day from jumping right into intense workouts or intense competitive activities. For example, the person who works at a desk all week long and then tries to jump into an adult softball tournament all weekend long has trained themselves to be in a hunched, slouched, or “stressful on their spine” sitting position for at least 40 hours that week, and then they expect their legs to fire properly to sprint to first base after they get a hit.
Oftentimes, these are the people who end up with limiting injuries such as strains and sprains and damage to their back. There is hope for chronic office work-related pain such as carpal tunnel, shoulder issues, wrist issues, neck issues, and especially posture-related issues.
Restoring Natural Posture and Enhancing Recovery
When the nervous system returns to utilizing each area the way it was optimally designed to be utilized, the bad postures and positions begin to feel less and less natural, and the good postures begin to take over. This creates a positive feedback loop for feeling good, sitting well, being more prepared, and having a better time with exercise activities.
Even people with advanced conditions who have restricted themselves to a more sedentary lifestyle can make changes much more quickly and safely with the Evo neurotherapy system because the added clarity that our technology can assist in giving the person's brain and muscles in firing on their proper patterns allows the person to let go of their guardedness much more quickly and allows the right muscles to do their appropriate jobs with less time and repetition.
Recognizing the Challenges of Prolonged Sitting
It is a frequent discussion at Evo Performance Rehab that we need to make people who work at desks or are sitting for a significant portion of their day aware that their posture and sitting position truly matter. If you sit for hours and hours in positions that stress your body, stress your joints, close down your breathing, and tense some of your muscles, you cannot expect to pop right out of those positions and feel strong, flexible, and stable.
The other 23 hours of the day when you might not be getting a workout or going for a walk are very important to how your body is prepared to handle moving through daily life. If the body is working the way it's designed to, then sitting in the sitting posture can be a very involved, strong, and athletic movement and position. Your body has to use muscles to support itself, and it has to be strong enough to do that properly.
If we treat sitting at a desk like it is not a challenging task for our body, we are ignorant of the demands and eventual breakdown that our body can develop because of this stress. If your body is not prepared to take the stress of sitting, then you need to work to get it strong and stable enough to be able to tolerate that stress.
People may think of workouts, weight lifting, or moving furniture as stressful to their bodies, and they tend to ignore the demands of long-distance sitting. Sitting is the new smoking, as some may say. At Evo Performance Rehab, we help people get back on track so that they can feel like their body is working with them instead of against them, whether the challenge is in movement or posture and positioning at work.