How to avoid chronic pain from too much sitting

Friday, 28 September, 2018

How to avoid chronic pain from too much sitting

One in two Australians spend over half of their day sitting down, which has the potential to damage their health.

Research also shows that half of Australians spend an average of 22 hours behind a desk each week.

Prolonged sitting and a lack of physical activity takes an immense toll on workers’ bodies and is associated with a wide range of health problems, including premature degeneration of spinal discs, inflammation of joints, connective tissues and nerves.

During October’s National Safe Work Month, Osteopathy Australia is encouraging Australians to incorporate simple movements such as stretching, standing up, walking meetings, changing postures regularly and micro-breaks into their working day to reduce the risk of developing a chronic pain problem, or a work-related musculoskeletal complaint.

Painful back and neck problems are likely results of continually sitting with a poor posture or awkward sitting postures, which, if left unresolved, can become chronic conditions. With just one in three (30%) Australians achieving the recommended amount of physical activity per week, it’s little wonder that 70–90% will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives.

Sydney-based osteopath Edward Clark said that although physical activity among Australian workers is slowly improving, too many of us are still spending most of our working day sitting at a desk without any active movement.

“Back problems are the third-leading cause of disease burden in Australia and we still face the issue of a majority of Australian workers having sedentary jobs and sitting for most of their working day.

“The way we work is unlikely to change in the near future, and as health professionals, we need to be vigilant about promoting health and making recommendations to all Australians, particularly sedentary working Australians, such as taking small breaks to stretch our limbs and joints,” he said.

“Some workplaces now offer sit-stand desks and whilst these may not suit everyone, they do offer a means to negate some of the effects of sitting all day. Whilst other offices have activity programs like in-house yoga, or group fitness programs which not only negate some of the effects of sedentariness, but may also boost productivity in the workforce.”

Osteopathy focuses on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves and circulation work together to reduce pain and risk of injury, while improving overall health and wellbeing. Osteopaths can also provide education and advice regarding workplace ergonomics, promoting healthy postural movement behaviours and prescribing exercises that can be easily performed at home or work, and can be contacted without a GP or specialist referral.

Clark also believes that osteopathy is a great place to start when seeking pain relief.

“Osteopaths don’t only look at the point of pain, they take a ‘whole of body’ approach. Workplace environment and stresses may also be accessed to provide a mix of treatments.

“Australians need to be mindful of spending too much time behind the desk and learn the best activities and practices to maintain a healthy, comfortable workplace environment,” Clark said.

Image credit: ©

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