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Why is slouching bad for your spine?

Working 9 to 5 in front of a computer is the new norm. And most likely this will remain the case for some time.

So what's the problem? Well, this places the individual to 7-9 hours of sitting 5 days a week which equals 35 to 45 hours, for many years (unless you're one of the lucky ones to retire early). Now, this may not be an issue for individuals who can sit upright all day but what if majority of this is spent slouched? The result may lead to damaging changes to the spine.

Let me explain this a little further.

The body's ability to sit and stand, holding its own weight is achieved by two main parts of the body, the bones (the skeletal frame) and your muscles (attached to the bones by tendons to move the joints). There are other structures like fascia that assist with weight bearing but lets keep this discussion simple.

Sitting slouched is simply “switching off” your muscles due to fatigue or habit and allowing the skeletal frame to support all of your weight. Slouching is usually easier to do as it requires less work and energy. But allowing your skeletal frame to support your weight without the assistance of your muscles can have very negative consequences.

Sitting slouched for many years can change the alignment of the spine which then leads to a slouched state even when you stand. This occurs as the spinal joints and discs lose their hydration over time as you age. (It's like comparing brand new rubber tyres on a car to aged tyres that are hard and brittle). This is a natural process but likely to be accelerated with increased levels of loading on the spine due to poor sitting/ posture behaviour. As your spine stiffens, its ability to straighten out of this slouched state is affected. This process happens over many years, but its effects can be easily seen.

When you see someone who is upright you immediately get the sense that they are 1) very young or 2) they are athletic and fit.

When you see someone with poor posture you get the sense that they are 1) old or 2) not athletic or fit.

The other complication to this process is that a worn and stiff spine is often painful and may affect the integrity of the spinal cord and nerves which are housed inside. This leads to nerve pain such as sciatica, a condition our Maroubra Chiropractors treat. Habitual slouching also weakens postural muscles as they are never switched on. And as a result trying to sit upright is even more straining, as the weakened muscles are unable to assist with weight bearing on the spine.

Our Maroubra Chiropractors at Maroubra Chiropractic & Health see many patients who present variations to these conditions. Treatment always involve spine alignment and rehab exercises, coupled with posture education - useful hints & tips of ways to foster good postural habits in their work environment.

If you have any of these conditions, contact us and see how our Maroubra Chiros (@ Maroubra Chiropractic & health) can help you.

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