Interventional pain specialist Dr. Kaliq Chang of the Atlantic Spine Center says too much sitting and poor posture hurt the spine

Dr Kaliq Chang

Are you still working from home? Well, don’t just sit there. Move!

Long hours of sitting – and slouching – in front of a computer can cause spine, back and neck problems and deteriorate overall health.

— Dr. Kaliq Chang

WEST ORANGE, NJ, USA, August 10, 2022 / — Do you still work from home? Well, don’t just sit there. Get up and move! This is the interventional advice pain management specialist Kaliq Chang MD, with Atlantic Spine Centerwho says that long hours spent sitting – and slouching – in front of a computer can cause spinal, back and neck problems and deteriorate general health.

“The tendency is to spend an inordinate amount of time sitting and leaning forward in front of a computer screen while concentrating on a task. Often, the person working from home literally loses count of the number of hours they have spent in front of the computer – with no interruptions or significant movement of any kind,” says Dr. Chang, a highly skilled member of the Atlantic Spine Center team, based in New Jersey and New York. “Staying in a prolonged sitting position , fixed, with the head pushed forward, puts undue stress on the back and neck, as it forces the natural ‘S’ curves of the spine out of alignment.”

And studies back up Dr. Chang’s claim. In an article published in a 2022 issue of BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders (, scientists write that “prolonged poor sitting posture over time is a root cause of spinal abnormalities.” Sitting takes the “physiological curvature of the spine” out of its “natural state”, which is when standing, and “changes the tension in the soft tissues of the body”. Another study, this one in the Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy (, concludes that “greater forward head posture and less backward cervical flexion” while seated is associated with an increased incidence of neck pain and more frequent visits to a healthcare professional. health.

“Sitting may seem relaxing, but it strains the spinal discs and the back and neck muscles, which eventually weakens them,” says Dr. Chang. The problem is exacerbated when a person’s sitting posture is simply faulty; when computer work is done while lying on a bed propped up on one elbow or slumped on a couch with just a pillow for back support; or when the computer is positioned in a way that requires a person to turn sideways while working on the keyboard, he adds.

In fact, some experts call prolonged sitting and poor posture a growing public health problem. Writing in a 2021 issue of Biomechanics (, investigators report that “increased lumbar muscle stiffness is likely related to the often preferred slouched sitting position”. Discovery “may help [in] understand how prolonged periods of sitting can increase susceptibility to common pathological conditions such as low back pain.

Dr. Chang calls the spine “the communicative and neurological connection between the brain and the body. Twisting, squeezing, or placing this link in unnatural positions can lead to inflammation and injury to muscles, ligaments, and the spine, as well as spinal disc trauma. The damage may be undetectable at first, but can potentially lead to acute or chronic pain and stiffness. nerve compression, with numbness, tingling and weakness in the arms or legs; and even disabling conditions related to deterioration of the spine.

Interrupting the natural anatomical curvature of the spine can also promote the development of lordosis, an abnormal inward curvature – or swayback – affecting the lumbar spine and sometimes the neck and often marked by pain and difficulty in moving. movement – or kyphosis, an excessive outward curvature that can create a humpback deformity. One type of kyphosis is directly associated with poor posture, says Dr Chang

More worryingly, says Dr. Chang, studies show a causal association between excessive daily sitting and serious illness. He cites research in the Annals of Internal Medicine (10.7326/M14-1651) where researchers report finding “significant risk associations” between a sedentary lifestyle and mortality from all causes, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and type II diabetes.

An article in a 2020 issue of the Korean Journal of Family Medicine (10.4082/kjfm.20.0165) states that “the average daily duration of sedentary behavior is…7.7 hours among the American adult population” and blames “the increase occupational sedentary behaviors such as office work”. as a major factor.

Especially for those who “often get lost in their plans” when working from home, Dr. Chang offers these simple tips for maintaining a happy spine — and overall health:
• Every hour or every hour and a half, get up from the chair, stretch, walk a little – even go outside and take a short walk.
• Sit up straight and well back in a supportive chair appropriate for your height and the height of the work table or desk. Place the computer screen at a comfortable level for the eyes. Keep your feet flat on the floor or put something under them to make sure they are touching a solid, level surface. Never work while bending over a computer on your lap or lounging on a sofa or bed.
• Bring the chair closer to the desk. Avoid slouching (lowering your shoulders and sagging your torso) and craning your neck forward to see the computer screen. If necessary, move the computer closer to keep the head up.
• Vary your position as much as possible. Move the computer to a higher table that allows you to stand and work comfortably for a while. The standing position puts the spine in a more natural state.
• Pretend to be at the office by maintaining a regular start and finish schedule. Understand that you don’t have to work 14 hours a day to impress the boss.
• Build daily exercise into your day. Put the exercise on your work calendar as if it were a meeting, then follow through.

“And, if you have bothersome back or neck pain that persists while standing, sitting, or both and lasting more than a few days, contact an orthopedic or interventional pain specialist for an evaluation,” advises Dr. Chang.

Atlantic Spine Center is a nationally recognized leader in endoscopic spine surgery and pain management with multiple locations in New Jersey and New York.

Kaliq Chang, MD, is an interventional pain management specialist at the Atlantic Spine Center. He is certified in anesthesiology.

Melissa Chefec
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