It’s hard to believe, but there’s only one more month left before summer winds down and school starts again. Every year we see a trend with patients having increased musculoskeletal complaints related to the return to sitting for extended periods of time.
In the summer kids are typically much more physically active, doing things like running around in the yard, playing in the ocean, participating in camps, and hopefully staying out of trouble. When school starts, they abruptly transition to sitting in classes all day with very little physical activity or movement other than the walk from one class to the next.
But this transition at the start of the school year doesn’t only affect children. This also impacts college students returning to long lectures and term papers. It affects our teachers as they manage the stresses of starting a new year with new students. It affects parents and other adults who engaged in more physical activity doing things like yard work, vacationing, and other seasonal recreational activities during the summer months. As the fun of summer winds down, it’s time for all of us to get back to the daily grind.
The end result is the same in each of these scenarios- more time is spent sitting relatively still. The challenge that results from sitting more is trying to maintain good posture to keep our muscles and joints healthy. Whether it’s sitting in class or working at a desk, we spend a great deal of time focused on the small space immediately in front of us. The more time we spend sitting, the more likely we are to melt into the seat. Our heads tilt forward and we look down toward our work, our shoulders hunch, our backs round out, we stretch our feet out in front of us, and we slouch. We all know we shouldn’t, but we do it anyway. Clinical research has repeatedly shown how a sedentary lifestyle negatively influences metabolism and overall indicators of general health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996155/ Combine this with poor posture, and it’s no surprise we start to hurt.
The best solution for this is to stay moving! Find reasons to get up during your work day. Walk over and talk to your co-worker instead of picking up the phone. Take a stroll over your lunch break. Park further away from the door, and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Encourage your kids to move after school hours. Teach them to spend less time on their cell phones and video games. Put music on and play a game instead of turning on the television every night. Teach your kids healthy habits while they are still young, and set a good example by following your own advice. And when you do feel stiff or sore, come see us for an adjustment and a massage!
By: Dr. Scott Kuper