Adria Biasi, Author at Symbiotic Chair

How Can Active Sitting Improve your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – NEAT

How Can Active Sitting Improve your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – NEAT

Our society promotes a very sedentary lifestyle. We sit at work, on our commutes, while at school, during meals, and to relax. In the US, we can even sit while we wait for our groceries to be brought to our car and in the drive through bank or pharmacy. Not only are we sitting more and more, but we are also decreasing our non-exercise activity thermogenesis, also referred to as our NEAT.

Despite our sedentary environment, we have many ways to help decrease our overall lack of movement. Active sitting is one of these solutions.

What is NEAT?

Non-exercise activity refers to the activities you complete outside of your exercise routine. This can include walking around the grocery store, using the stairs, gardening, and even fidgeting. Thermogenesis refers to burning calories, or using energy.

Together, non-exercise activity thermogenesis refers to the amount of calories you burn, or the amount of energy you use to complete activities outside of your exercise routine.

There are 3 components that make up NEAT. This includes body posture, ambulation, and all other movements, the most impactful being fidgeting.¹ How you hold yourself, how much you walk, and how much you fidget play a significant role in your NEAT.

Why does NEAT matter?

NEAT matters most when you live a very sedentary lifestyle. This includes being desk bound at work. A sitting body does not expend very much energy. Therefore, excess calories, or energy, becomes stored in our body as excess weight.

These excess calories, resulting in increasing bodyweight, overtime can lead to obesity. And obesity is associated with the leading causes of preventable deaths, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.

By simply increasing your NEAT, you can be saving your life.

According to Dr. James Levine, the director of the Mayo Clinic at Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, obesity was rare a century ago. The only thing that has really changed is an increase in sedentary jobs and the overall chair-enticing environment.

To test this, researchers gave volunteers an extra 1,000 calories a day for 56 days. Some of the participants did not gain weight while others did. The difference between the volunteers? Their amount of NEAT. Some had the ability to switch on their NEAT while others continued to stay seated as they overeat. The end result? The extra calories turned into body fat.²

For example, someone who is desk bound for a typical work day of 8 hours will burn around 300 calories from NEAT. Someone who has a more active job such as a waitress will burn around 1,300 calories from NEAT in an 8 hour work day. That is a difference of 1,000 calories a day. Overtime this adds up to either the employee becoming obese or staying within an appropriate, healthy weight.³

It is really your NEAT that makes up a good bulk of your energy expenditure each day. It can range from 15% of our total energy expenditure, up to as much as 50% in the fidgety, active people.² Even just standing or lightly walking can increase your NEAT by 350 kcal per day.¹ Adding slightly more movement to your everyday activities can improve your life exponentially.

Dr. Levine states:
“NEAT is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and fidgeting. Even trivial physical activities increase metabolic rate substantially and it is the cumulative impact of a multitude of exothermic actions that culminate in an individual’s daily NEAT.”

How does active sitting help?

Many office workers spend up to 90% of their work day seated!⁵ Active sitting, which is exactly what it sounds like, offers a way of letting employees move and use their muscles while also staying productive at their desks.

Opposite of sitting still, active sitting will increase the use of your musculoskeletal and balance systems. While working more and more muscles to help maintain good posture and balance, you will also be increasing your NEAT.

Some chairs used for active sitting, like the Symbiotic Chair, include a balancing mechanism, meaning that you get to use your own muscles to help stay balanced and in control of the chair. As you reach forwards, turn around, or during any other movement, you will work your core muscles to help you move in the chair while the chair follows you to help keep you supported.

You could even consider active sitting as a way of fidgeting in your seat. And we all know how well fidgeting works to increase your NEAT, keeping you healthy and free from gaining extra weight.

Active sitting simply encourages better posture and more movement when compared to a traditional office chair. Your core, hips, and even your shoulder muscles work harder during active sitting, not only increasing your NEAT, but maybe even your strength.

Although you may not burn as many calories as you would during an hour at the gym, the increase in movement while sitting on a dynamic chair will promote an increase in your NEAT. Research has found that active, or dynamic sitting, in a chair that has a tilting, balance mechanism, allows users to perform the equivalent of light physical activity while sitting.⁶

NEAT is a very simple and natural human phenomenon that is sometimes forgotten about in our sedentary world. Use NEAT to your advantage, helping you to stay within a healthy body weight while avoiding so many other lifestyle diseases. If you find yourself having trouble with adding movement throughout your day, try an active sitting chair while you sit at your desk. You may be surprised by the full body benefits.

Author: Adria Biasi

Author is US based Doctor of Physical Therapy and Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist

Sources

1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24149423/
2) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15387473/
3) Kelly Starrett, Deskbound, Standing Up to a Sitting World (Victoria Belt Publishing Inc., 2016): 18-19
4) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12468415/
5) https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/21577323.2016.1183534
6) https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/474a/f02b3a255aa7362040504da2bb67a93f3f51.pdf

How Smartphones and Tablets Are Affecting Your Spine

How Smartphones and Tablets Are Affecting Your Spine

Whether you call it “Text Neck” or “Tech Neck”, most of you reading this have probably endured at least some form of neck or back pain, headache, or even jaw pain. It may have not been obvious at the time of experiencing your symptoms, but the use of your smartphone or tablets are one of the main causes of your symptoms. And over time, guess what can happen… even your posture, or the way you hold yourself up, can change! Sadly, these changes are occurring earlier in life for our younger generations. Without a doubt, children these days are using these pieces of technology way more than our older generations have or ever will, especially since kids use these for school and for play. It is time we start to educate everyone on how these, handy, yet debilitating devices are affecting our spine and ultimately our entire health and wellness. What is happening when we use a smartphone or tablet? We use these items for communication, research, scheduling, navigation, ordering food to be delivered, online shopping etc. Reliance has grown tremendously, even in the last 10 years. In the United Kingdom, the average amount of time spent on the phone in 2019 was 3 hours and 23 minutes. This number increased in the 16-24 year old groups to 4 hours a day. And in the United States, the average American spends 5.4 hours a day on their phone. Again, that millennial group was found to spend slightly more time on their phones, 5.7 hours.  Remember, these are averages, some people are on their phones for 12+ hours! No matter what age we are, when we use these devices we put our spine into a poor position. Think about yourself as you use your smartphone or tablet. What sort of positions do you find yourself in? Perhaps some of these ring a bell:

  • Bending of your neck so that you can lower your eyes to look at the device.
    • Over stretching and weakness begins to occur throughout all of the muscles meant to support the spine. To try to help add some stability, as your neck is bent forwards you may then slightly extend your head up. This is called forward head posture and is one of the main causes of headaches!

Forward head position deteriorated by laptop

Forward head posture

  • Excessive round of your shoulders, especially the one holding the device.
    • You need to be able to hold the smartphone or tablet in front of you, therefore you can’t help but to round your shoulder forwards (unless you knew the importance of posture!). And the rounding worsens the more that your neck is bent forwards.
  • Excessive rounding of your thoracic spine.
    • Your neck and your thoracic spine (aka your mid back) are so connected. As you continue to keep your neck bent and your head forwards, the rest of your spine continues to round with it. It can get back enough until one day you cannot sit up tall anymore. Can you imagine what this does to your organs, especially your ability to take a nice, full, deep breath of air?

Mid-back rounding

Mid-back rounding smartphones tablets

  • Guess what? That rounding goes all the way down to your lumbar spine (aka your low back).
    • Your pelvis, or you can think of it as your tailbone, will even start to tuck underneath of you, turning off your powerful hip muscles and tightening the muscles in the front of your hips. Check out this post on upper and lower cross syndrome!

And, most likely, if you are holding the device in one hand, you are probably side bent through your whole back to that one side. Whether this is because you are leaning over to support that arm on a table or armrest while you use your phone or just out of pure weakness and inability to hold yourself up, it can wreak havoc on your body. Now, these points are just a general overview, but these are also the most common postural deviations noted with use of these smart devices. Can you see yourself in any of these positions while you use them? A recent study on college students found that all of these postural impairments do occur. (Honestly, all of us can see these effects on people using smart devices if we know what we are looking for). This article demonstrated:

  • Rounding of the shoulders
  • Thoracic Spine kyphosis (increase in the curve, or rounding)
  • Neck bend, not only forwards, but also to the side
  • Pelvic obliquity (the pelvis is out of alignment)

All of these postural imbalances can result in long term pain, impairments, and decreased ability to concentrate.¹ Let’s look a little more at the consequences the use of these devices have on our health and wellness. Consequences on our health and wellness We will start back up at the neck. Studies have shown that the increase in flexion, or bending of our neck, causes changes in the natural curve of our spine. A healthy back has three natural curves: a slight forward curve in the neck called a cervical curve, a slight backward curve in the upper back called the thoracic curve, and a slight forward curve in the low back called the lumbar curve. You know by now can be destroyed by poor posture associated with use of these devices. As our posture changes, there is an increase in stress through the spine of our neck as the natural curve cannot attenuate the weight of the head and gravity, as well as the ground reaction force, whether we are sitting or standing. Besides the joints of the spine enduring more stress, the surrounding ligaments and muscles obtain more stress and can start to spasm. There is actually another fun fact about our neck, it has so many receptors that provide our brains information on where we are in space, how our head is aligned with the rest of the body, and what it needs to do to keep the eyes level. Honestly, our body’s number one goal is to keep our eyes level and it will do whatever else it needs to do to the spine in order to achieve this goal. But with the increase in stress, spasms, and as mentioned above, the overstretching and weakness that happens to the spine, the receptors don’t work as well. You can imagine the potential visual and balance problems, headaches, and eye strain that can occur.² Let’s move down to the thoracic spine. This area of our spine, our mid back, also includes our ribs as our ribs attach onto our spine! Try taking a deep breath. You probably feel your ribs expanding (if not, you may want to work with a Physical Therapist on this). Now, bend forwards, such as when you are using a smart device, and try to take another deep breath. You just physically cannot! You are stopping your ribs from expanding by rounding your mid back and “squishing” your rib cage, which also presses on your organs, decreasing your diaphragm function, and inhibits your lungs from fully filling with air.³ And as we move down to the low back, remember, all of the rounding that happens above, continues to work its way down. Whether you are sitting or standing, your pelvis will then start to tilt, or tuck, underneath of you, decreasing your ability to use all of your muscles of your core and hips appropriately. While these devices have gained popularity in the last decade, the problems associated with them have not. There could also be health implications that we are not aware of due to the fact that these devices are still relatively new. How can we improve our chances? If everyone could understand the importance of posture, we may all be in a better position, figuratively and literally. It is possible to improve posture while using a device. Simply knowing what posture to sit or stand in and then knowing the correct stretching and strengthening exercises to do can be very beneficial. (This is for another article at another time.) But for immediate assistance you can purchase some accessories or implement some features that can make your ability to use your smartphone or tablet a lot easier while also improving the health of your spine.

  • Tablet holder, whether this is used on your lap or on a desk, it can decrease how much you have to bend your neck and head down.
  • Use hand free features, such as talk to text and text to speech features.
    • Talk to text allows you to talk to your phone while it types what you are saying which is helpful for texts, emails, and even for search engines.
    • Text to speech is a feature that allows your device to read whatever it is that is on the screen out loud to you.
  • Active sitting chairs, such as the Symbiotic chair.
    • This type of chair allows you to sit comfortably with the freedom to use your own muscles to move your spine around to more natural and healthy positions.
  • Alternate what hand is typing or scrolling on the device.
  • Take frequent breaks!

These smartphones and tablets allow us to do so much. They have been life changing in this pandemic as they have the ability to connect people across the globe. They provide instant information to our pressing questions about the world. And they can occupy us when we need a distraction from what is going on around us. But we need to make changes now so that we can avoid the long term pain and disability that can arise, especially in our spine, and so that we can continue to use these amazing and advanced devices throughout the course of the rest of our lives.

Author: Adria Biasi, US based Doctor of Physical Therapy and Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist  

Sources

 

Active Sitting as a Solution for Sitting Induced Low Back Pain

Active Sitting as a Solution for Sitting Induced Low Back Pain

Our bodies were not designed for sitting. If you travel back in time, you will find that our ancestors were too busy hunting and gathering to have any time to sit. And, if you think back to your childhood, you will remember that you spent so much more time running, jumping, playing, and much less time sitting.

How did we transform from such an active past to such as inactive present?

Unfortunately, it is today’s modern workforce that is mostly to blame. To make matters worse, our society is faced with the terrible COVID-19 pandemic. People who previously went into the office are now working from home with badly improvised work stations. From sitting on the couch with a laptop to slouching at the kitchen table, we will undoubtedly observe an even greater increase in the amount of sitting and the negative consequences that come with it, including low back pain.

Epidemic proportions of sitting induced low back pain

Low back pain has become an epidemic in our modern society and is now the leading cause of work absence and activity limitations throughout the world.¹ Even if you recover from your first episode of low back pain, chances are, you are going to experience another episode at some point in your life.

Why is this happening? Sitting. As our society continues to sit more and more, the prevalence of low back pain directly increases.

Humans are constantly sitting. We sit to eat, drive, and work. We sit to relax and during other leisure activities. In fact, working age adults in England sit for an average of 9.5 hours per day.

As you go into the office on Monday morning and have a seat at your desk, you may start with relatively good posture. Throughout the day, your posture may worsen, and over the course of a few days, weeks, months, your body adapts to this posture. Areas of the body get tight, other areas become weak, bad habits develop, and pain arises.

Why can’t we simply keep that good posture all day long?

Our bodies intuitively look for ways to decrease energy usage. So, instead of relying on muscles to help maintain a strong posture, we begin to rely on other passive structures such as ligaments, joints, and intervertebral discs. These parts of our bodies were not made for prolonged load-bearing. Therefore, the more we rely on these structures, the more pain we experience, the weaker our back muscles become, and the cycle continues.²

What makes back pain even worse is static sitting. Static sitting refers to maintaining the same posture or position throughout an activity or task. A continuous load is placed through muscles, tendons, joints, discs, and other body parts. This static sitting behavior has been found to be associated with chronic low back pain and pain related disability.³

So much research has been done on sitting induced low back pain. There is no denying the direct relationship that sitting time, whether for work or leisure, has on low back pain intensity.³

While avoiding sitting may be helpful in decreasing pain, some people cannot avoid sitting at least for some portion of their work day. So, if you have to sit, you may as well sit in the best posture with the most optimal muscle activation patterns you can.

How active sitting helps to prevent and reduce sitting induced low back pain 

The opposite of static sitting, discussed earlier, is active sitting. Active sitting refers to engaging muscles, especially of your core, while in a sitting position. One could achieve the effects of active sitting by constantly getting up and moving around, but this is not very efficient for the workplace. Instead, someone could work on actively sitting by using the Symbiotic chair, which is an ergonomically and environmentally friendly chair.

This active sitting chair does not allow you to just passively sit while at work. Preferably, it stimulates your postural and trunk muscles that help keep your body upright and stable. Chairs that allow active sitting are built to still provide support to your sitting bones and low back, while also challenging the user’s muscles by having a flexible seat, mounted on a balancing mechanism. Whether reaching forwards to grab something, turning to answer the phone, and everything in between, this mechanism allows the person to use their own muscles to move around and stay balanced in their chair while still receiving adequate support.

Chairs without this balancing mechanism do not engage the user’s core muscles. Without using these muscles, the body relies on non-contractile tissues for support. And as we learned earlier, this is what can create the vicious cycle of pain.

However, with the use of the balance mechanism, there is an increase in trunk motion, higher muscle activity, constant changes in pressure to the joints, discs, and other structures of the spine, and overall less low back pain.⁴ This postural variation aspect of active sitting is a key component in combating sitting induced low back pain epidemic.

What is postural variation

Postural variation is really the outcome of active sitting.

To better understand this concept, think of riding a horse. If you have ever ridden a horse, you may have noticed that it doesn’t take a significant amount of effort to stay upright and balanced. The horse is walking and moving around, while you stay balanced on top. This balanced poise while sitting for long horseback rides is the same thing that happens with active sitting. Your body is constantly shifting and moving to stay balanced, utilizing postural muscles, but without significant fatigue or realization that you are even doing this.

Now imagine sitting on the couch and watching a movie without any breaks. How do you feel when you stand up once the movie is over? Your back is probably stiff and it may take a few minutes to feel back to normal. This is because your couch or other chair does not have the ability to allow you to have postural variation.

Research has even found that in one hour of sitting, people that develop pain actually move much less than people that do not develop pain. This particular study found that it had nothing to do with the posture, but with the amount of movement. You can think of this as fidgeting for the spine.⁵

While it is unfortunate that so many people have to sit at work, we are lucky enough to have the resources available to create better sitting environments. The path to reducing low back pain, and avoiding it altogether starts with active sitting.

With active sitting, you will be able to have constant postural variation with the ability to use your own muscles to find balance, ending the sitting induced low back pain cycle.

Author: Adria Biasi

US based Doctor of Physical Therapy and Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist

Sources

  1. https://www.jospt.org/doi/full/10.2519/jospt.2012.42.4.A1
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1050641112001721
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003687019301279
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254614000076
  5. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00140139.2019.1661526

 

 

How Important is Core Stability While Sitting At Work?

How Important is Core Stability While Sitting At Work?

You may know some things about core stability, especially as it pertains to exercise and lifting heavy. But you may not realize how important core stability is as it relates to posture and prolonged sitting at work. The strength and stability of your core has the ability to safeguard you from the aches and pains associated with a sedentary desk job.

Evidence based guidelines state that decreased strength is one of the clinical findings associated with acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain. And a review of all of the literature states that there is strong evidence in the use of specific trunk strengthening and endurance exercises, combined with overall physical activity, as an intervention to improve low back pain.¹

There is no denying the fact that most people spend more waking hours working than they do engaging in other fun, relaxing, and leisure activities. So why not include more core stability activities into our long work days?!

First, let’s talk more about our core and what muscles are involved.

What makes up our core stability?

Core stability is the ability of our low back and abdominal muscles to work together to keep a happy, healthy, neutral posture for prolonged periods of time.

Several muscle groups help to add to core stability. Therefore, to improve core stability, we need to work on not only retraining our postural habits, but also on improving the strength and endurance of our low back and abdominal muscles.

The muscles of your core include:

  • Transverse Abdominis
  • Lumbar Multifidus
  • Erector Spinae
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Internal / External Obliques

Together, these muscles provide stability to our low back, protecting it against faulty movement patterns and from sitting for hours on end. Think of these muscles working together the way a corset or weight lifting belt works.

One can train and improve core stability throughout different forms of exercise. Some common exercises to improve your stability are through different plank variations, the dead bug exercise, leg raises, and by different forms of sit-ups or abdominal crunches.

While all of these exercises are great, they may not be ones that we can regularly perform throughout the work day. Since we spend so much time at work, it would be best if we find a more feasible way to work on improving core stability in the workplace.

How can we add core stability into the workplace?

If exercising at work is out of the question, one of the simplest ways to increase core stability while sitting at work is through improving our sitting posture.

As we sit, the muscles listed above, our postural muscles, succumb to the effects of gravity. They become less active and we begin to rely on support from our ligaments and joints in our spine to maintain stability. Unfortunately, our ligaments and joints were not made for this prolonged load. It is the job of our postural, core muscles to help absorb this load and handle the stress.

Strengthening these muscles is not enough to correct the problem. We must improve our posture in order to maintain prolonged core stability and proper posture to avoid low back pain and other aches and potential injuries.²

To improve our sitting posture, we should have a chair that allows us to maintain our natural lordotic curve. We don’t want to be slouched forwards, rounding our low back.

Overtime, this prolonged stretch to the low back muscles will cause them to weaken, increasing our reliance on passive structures, your ligaments and joints, to support us.

Besides having the ability to maintain a natural, lordotic curve, we can also improve our core stability, improve our posture, and decrease our risk of developing low back pain by choosing an active sitting chair.

What is an active sitting chair?

An active sitting chair allows you to do exactly what the name implies. Active-Sitting.

Despite sitting for 8 hours a day at work, an active sitting chair will allow you to stay more active during those long work days.

As you sit in an active sitting chair, such as the Symbiotic Chair, you will constantly be using your postural core muscles to move around, stay balanced, and to keep your healthy, natural posture.

Using this chair will not only improve your posture and use of your core muscles, but it will also strengthen and improve the endurance of these muscles.

The Symbiotic Chair was designed with the human body in mind, allowing for frequent movement and changes of your sitting position. In allowing the body to make these constant changes, you will also be strengthening your core stability muscles.

This active sitting chair works through the use of a flexible seat that is mounted on a balancing mechanism. The Symbiotic Chair will not allow you to just sit passively. Instead, it stimulates the musculature responsible for keeping your body upright and stable.

Additionally, the unique sculpted backrest with pronounced lower back support follows a user’s movements in all directions and provides counter-force against the lower back when a user leans against it. This chair was designed as an active working chair to stimulate an upright sitting posture, and this is why it is not equipped with a reclining mechanism like most conventional ergonomic chairs and does not support a lounging position.

The research supports the fact that active sitting does lead to an increase in core muscle activity.³ And an increase in core muscle activity leads to improved strength, endurance, and overall stability.

Something as simple as changing your office chair, from a standard chair to an active sitting chair can make the world of difference in your core stability and posture, and therefore, your chances of developing low back pain.

So, to answer the questions, how important is core stability while sitting at work?

It is undoubtedly, very important. Core stability is easy to improve and can decrease your risk of developing low back pain. By being able to keep your muscles strong and avoid abnormal wear and tear on your ligaments and joints of your spine, you can continue to work and live pain free.

Make the switch today. Improve your core stability by simply actively sitting at work!

 

Author:

Adria Biasi

US based Doctor of Physical Therapy and Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist

Sources:

 

 

 

You may know some things about core stability, especially as it pertains to exercise and lifting heavy. But you may not realize how important core stability is as it relates to posture and prolonged sitting at work. The strength and stability of your core has the ability to safeguard you from the aches and pains associated with a sedentary desk job.

Evidence based guidelines state that decreased strength is one of the clinical findings associated with acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain. And a review of all of the literature states that there is strong evidence in the use of specific trunk strengthening and endurance exercises, combined with overall physical activity, as an intervention to improve low back pain.¹

There is no denying the fact that most people spend more waking hours working than they do engaging in other fun, relaxing, and leisure activities. So why not include more core stability activities into our long work days?!

First, let’s talk more about our core and what muscles are involved.

What makes up our core stability?

 Core stability is the ability of our low back and abdominal muscles to work together to keep a happy, healthy, neutral posture for prolonged periods of time.

Several muscle groups help to add to core stability. Therefore, to improve core stability, we need to work on not only retraining our postural habits, but also on improving the strength and endurance of our low back and abdominal muscles.

The muscles of your core include:

  • Transverse Abdominis
  • Lumbar Multifidus
  • Erector Spinae
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Internal / External Obliques

Together, these muscles provide stability to our low back, protecting it against faulty movement patterns and from sitting for hours on end. Think of these muscles working together the way a corset or weight lifting belt works.

One can train and improve core stability throughout different forms of exercise. Some common exercises to improve your stability are through different plank variations, the dead bug exercise, leg raises, and by different forms of sit-ups or abdominal crunches.

While all of these exercises are great, they may not be ones that we can regularly perform throughout the work day. Since we spend so much time at work, it would be best if we find a more feasible way to work on improving core stability in the workplace.

How can we add core stability into the workplace?

If exercising at work is out of the question, one of the simplest ways to increase core stability while sitting at work is through improving our sitting posture.

As we sit, the muscles listed above, our postural muscles, succumb to the effects of gravity. They become less active and we begin to rely on support from our ligaments and joints in our spine to maintain stability. Unfortunately, our ligaments and joints were not made for this prolonged load. It is the job of our postural, core muscles to help absorb this load and handle the stress.

Strengthening these muscles is not enough to correct the problem. We must improve our posture in order to maintain prolonged core stability and proper posture to avoid low back pain and other aches and potential injuries.²

To improve our sitting posture, we should have a chair that allows us to maintain our natural lordotic curve. We don’t want to be slouched forwards, rounding our low back.

Overtime, this prolonged stretch to the low back muscles will cause them to weaken, increasing our reliance on passive structures, your ligaments and joints, to support us.

Besides having the ability to maintain a natural, lordotic curve, we can also improve our core stability, improve our posture, and decrease our risk of developing low back pain by choosing an active sitting chair.

What is an active sitting chair?

An active sitting chair allows you to do exactly what the name implies. Active-Sitting.

Despite sitting for 8 hours a day at work, an active sitting chair will allow you to stay more active during those long work days.

As you sit in an active sitting chair, such as the Symbiotic Chair, you will constantly be using your postural core muscles to move around, stay balanced, and to keep your healthy, natural posture.

Using this chair will not only improve your posture and use of your core muscles, but it will also strengthen and improve the endurance of these muscles.

The Symbiotic Chair was designed with the human body in mind, allowing for frequent movement and changes of your sitting position. In allowing the body to make these constant changes, you will also be strengthening your core stability muscles.

This active sitting chair works through the use of a flexible seat that is mounted on a balancing mechanism. The Symbiotic Chair will not allow you to just sit passively. Instead, it stimulates the musculature responsible for keeping your body upright and stable.

Additionally, the unique sculpted backrest with pronounced lower back support follows a user’s movements in all directions and provides counter-force against the lower back when a user leans against it. This chair was designed as an active working chair to stimulate an upright sitting posture, and this is why it is not equipped with a reclining mechanism like most conventional ergonomic chairs and does not support a lounging position.

The research supports the fact that active sitting does lead to an increase in core muscle activity.³ And an increase in core muscle activity leads to improved strength, endurance, and overall stability.

Something as simple as changing your office chair, from a standard chair to an active sitting chair can make the world of difference in your core stability and posture, and therefore, your chances of developing low back pain.

So, to answer the questions, how important is core stability while sitting at work?

It is undoubtedly, very important. Core stability is easy to improve and can decrease your risk of developing low back pain. By being able to keep your muscles strong and avoid abnormal wear and tear on your ligaments and joints of your spine, you can continue to work and live pain free.

Make the switch today. Improve your core stability by simply actively sitting at work!

 

Author:

Adria Biasi

US based Doctor of Physical Therapy and Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist

Sources:

 

 

 

You may know some things about core stability, especially as it pertains to exercise and lifting heavy. But you may not realize how important core stability is as it relates to posture and prolonged sitting at work. The strength and stability of your core has the ability to safeguard you from the aches and pains associated with a sedentary desk job.

Evidence based guidelines state that decreased strength is one of the clinical findings associated with acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain. And a review of all of the literature states that there is strong evidence in the use of specific trunk strengthening and endurance exercises, combined with overall physical activity, as an intervention to improve low back pain.¹

There is no denying the fact that most people spend more waking hours working than they do engaging in other fun, relaxing, and leisure activities. So why not include more core stability activities into our long work days?!

First, let’s talk more about our core and what muscles are involved.

What makes up our core stability?

 Core stability is the ability of our low back and abdominal muscles to work together to keep a happy, healthy, neutral posture for prolonged periods of time.

Several muscle groups help to add to core stability. Therefore, to improve core stability, we need to work on not only retraining our postural habits, but also on improving the strength and endurance of our low back and abdominal muscles.

The muscles of your core include:

  • Transverse Abdominis
  • Lumbar Multifidus
  • Erector Spinae
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Internal / External Obliques

Together, these muscles provide stability to our low back, protecting it against faulty movement patterns and from sitting for hours on end. Think of these muscles working together the way a corset or weight lifting belt works.

One can train and improve core stability throughout different forms of exercise. Some common exercises to improve your stability are through different plank variations, the dead bug exercise, leg raises, and by different forms of sit-ups or abdominal crunches.

While all of these exercises are great, they may not be ones that we can regularly perform throughout the work day. Since we spend so much time at work, it would be best if we find a more feasible way to work on improving core stability in the workplace.

How can we add core stability into the workplace?

If exercising at work is out of the question, one of the simplest ways to increase core stability while sitting at work is through improving our sitting posture.

As we sit, the muscles listed above, our postural muscles, succumb to the effects of gravity. They become less active and we begin to rely on support from our ligaments and joints in our spine to maintain stability. Unfortunately, our ligaments and joints were not made for this prolonged load. It is the job of our postural, core muscles to help absorb this load and handle the stress.

Strengthening these muscles is not enough to correct the problem. We must improve our posture in order to maintain prolonged core stability and proper posture to avoid low back pain and other aches and potential injuries.²

To improve our sitting posture, we should have a chair that allows us to maintain our natural lordotic curve. We don’t want to be slouched forwards, rounding our low back.

Overtime, this prolonged stretch to the low back muscles will cause them to weaken, increasing our reliance on passive structures, your ligaments and joints, to support us.

Besides having the ability to maintain a natural, lordotic curve, we can also improve our core stability, improve our posture, and decrease our risk of developing low back pain by choosing an active sitting chair.

What is an active sitting chair?

An active sitting chair allows you to do exactly what the name implies. Active-Sitting.

Despite sitting for 8 hours a day at work, an active sitting chair will allow you to stay more active during those long work days.

As you sit in an active sitting chair, such as the Symbiotic Chair, you will constantly be using your postural core muscles to move around, stay balanced, and to keep your healthy, natural posture.

Using this chair will not only improve your posture and use of your core muscles, but it will also strengthen and improve the endurance of these muscles.

The Symbiotic Chair was designed with the human body in mind, allowing for frequent movement and changes of your sitting position. In allowing the body to make these constant changes, you will also be strengthening your core stability muscles.

This active sitting chair works through the use of a flexible seat that is mounted on a balancing mechanism. The Symbiotic Chair will not allow you to just sit passively. Instead, it stimulates the musculature responsible for keeping your body upright and stable.

Additionally, the unique sculpted backrest with pronounced lower back support follows a user’s movements in all directions and provides counter-force against the lower back when a user leans against it. This chair was designed as an active working chair to stimulate an upright sitting posture, and this is why it is not equipped with a reclining mechanism like most conventional ergonomic chairs and does not support a lounging position.

The research supports the fact that active sitting does lead to an increase in core muscle activity.³ And an increase in core muscle activity leads to improved strength, endurance, and overall stability.

Something as simple as changing your office chair, from a standard chair to an active sitting chair can make the world of difference in your core stability and posture, and therefore, your chances of developing low back pain.

So, to answer the questions, how important is core stability while sitting at work?

It is undoubtedly, very important. Core stability is easy to improve and can decrease your risk of developing low back pain. By being able to keep your muscles strong and avoid abnormal wear and tear on your ligaments and joints of your spine, you can continue to work and live pain free.

Make the switch today. Improve your core stability by simply actively sitting at work!

 

Author:

Adria Biasi

US based Doctor of Physical Therapy and Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist

Sources:

 

 

 

How To Use Your Laptop Without Damaging Your Spine

How To Use Your Laptop Without Damaging Your Spine

Laptops have revolutionized the way people work. Due to their size, portability, and battery power, laptops can be used anywhere in the world. Despite their convenience, laptops may actually be hurting us much more than we realize.

Have you ever stopped to take a look at how you are sitting when you are using your laptop? Be it on your lap, on your kitchen table, on an airplane, or at your work desk, you most likely will find yourself huddling over the attached keyboard and looking down at your screen.

These nifty devices cause such horrible posture, poor ergonomics, and ultimately a myriad of musculoskeletal problems, most notably in the form of back pain.¹

Laptop design as a cause of back pain

As you have experienced, laptops are very convenient due to the fact that the mouse and keyboard are attached to the computer screen.

What does this mean to us? Sure, we can pack a whole computer into a small bag and take it anywhere we go. But this also means we cannot customize the laptop user experience to work with each individual person’s unique posture, shapes, and sizes.

A laptop is made the same size for a 6-foot person as it is for a 5-foot person.

Not having the ability to separate the screen from the keyboard means you have to sit much closer to the laptop in order to reach the keyboard and mouse.

And, since the keyboard, mouse, and screen are connected, this means you also have to look down at the screen since you are unable to bring the screen to your appropriate eye level.

Compare that to a desktop computer where you can sit comfortably in a chair with the keyboard and mouse pulled in close to you with the screen at the appropriate eye level for you.

Having to look down at the screen and lean in towards the keyboard causes a significant forward head posture, increasing stress and strain to your neck and mid back, as well as constant slouching through your entire spine.

What exactly is forward head posture?

Forward head posture is a way to describe a positioning that many sedentary people adopt through use of laptops or other electronic devices.

Forward head position deteriorated by laptop

In the picture on the left you can see an example of great posture. On the right, this picture is demonstrating forward head posture.

With use of a laptop, one must lower their eyes and shove their head forward to see the screen.

How can this cause back pain?

Well, this posture places a lot of stress on the muscles of the jaw, neck, and upper back.

You can even see how the shoulders round forwards, tightening the chest muscles as well.

The longer you sustain this posture, the more pulling and rounding you will have throughout the entire spine, placing increased stress on the muscles, ligaments, and joints, potentially leading to pain and injury.²

If you think about how heavy your head is, around 5kg or 11 pounds, then it is easy to imagine how much stress is added to your spine the more your head moves forward, away from your center of mass. In fact, for every inch your head moves forwards, it gains another 10 pounds. This means the muscles of your spine have to work that much harder to keep your chin from dropping onto your chest.

That is a lot of added weight and stress to your spine!

What can you do to improve your laptop induced forward head posture?

 While it would be awesome to do away with laptops, it is just not that simple. Even though laptops have caused a lot of pain, they do offer so many benefits.

We just need to be smarter about how to use them. There are several tools available to improve the user experience, decrease forward head posture, and to eliminate back pain.

Here are the 4 issues with laptops and the tools you can use to improve back pain!

1. The height of your screen is going to be too low to maintain good posture.

To fix this you can set your laptop on a desk with a large textbook or sturdy box underneath. You may even purchase a laptop stand, that will look more professional, to elevate your screen.

If you are in a position that allows you to leave your laptop on a desk for prolonged periods of time, you may even buy an external screen. This will increase the height and the size of your screen.

Unfortunately, if you are using the laptop at home on the couch, you may not be able to place the laptop onto a stand. However, even a few pillows under the laptop can help to elevate the screen, decreasing how far you have to slouch down in order to improve your ability to see the screen.

2. The keyboard is not in the best position for you to have good posture. Since the keyboard is attached to the screen, you may not be able to place your elbows at a 90-degree bend with your wrists in a neutral, comfortable position.

To improve the use of your keyboard, you can purchase either a wired or wireless keyboard. This will allow you to have your laptop screen in a better position for your eyes while allowing you to set the keyboard up into an ergonomically friendly position for your shoulders, elbows, and wrists.

3. The mouse is also attached to the keyboard and screen! Same as with the keyboard situation, you will not be able to use the mouse while keeping your elbow at a 90-degree bend with your wrist in a neutral, comfortable position.

You can also purchase a wired or wireless mouse that will allow you to place it in    a more comfortable and ergonomic position for your body.

4. If you are unable to change much about your laptop, you can always improve the chair you are sitting on.

Your chair design can play a large role in your posture, including forward head posture, and back pain. If you are using a laptop, in a less than ideal posture with a horrible chair, then you are definitely set up for failure.

Instead of using a standard chair that has no support or is not the right size for your body, you should invest in a more ergonomically friendly chair. Active sitting chairs are a great option for when you are stuck using a laptop. Since you have to move around a lot more in order to stay comfortable while using a laptop compared to using a desktop, you will want a chair that will move with you, while still supporting you.

The Symbiotic Chair is an active sitting chair that actually has a balance mechanism built into it. This allows you to move your body around, using your own muscles for support, while improving your posture. Plus, the chair still provides adequate support through solid chair and back rest that provides comfortable counter support.

Now as you lean in closer to the screen, overextend your arms to reach the keyboard, or lean back for a break from the screen, you can have a chair that will support you in all positions.

So, if you are stuck using a laptop, try using any of the above external devices and try changing your chair. The benefits are countless, but especially through improving your posture and relieving back pain.

 Sources