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The danger of sitting

This is a discussion on The danger of sitting within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; I just wanted to tell you all how incredibly important it is to take care of your back and be ...

  1. #1
    Captain Crash brewbuck's Avatar
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    The danger of sitting

    I just wanted to tell you all how incredibly important it is to take care of your back and be careful with the amount of sitting that people like us inevitably do every day.

    I have spent 8-15 hours a day in front of a computer for the last 15 years. My posture ranges from "okay" to completely terrible. I started having lower back issues about 10 years ago, and never really took it too seriously. My back would go out, always on the right side, and it would take a week or two to get back to normal.

    I blew these episodes off for years. Then, earlier this year, the back went out but this time was different. I began to feel a piercing, stabbing pain deep inside my right buttock. This pain then grew, and began to extend down the outside of my right leg, all the way to the ankle. It felt like somebody was beating up my leg with a baseball bat.

    I started physical therapy. After two months the pain went away. I learned a lot about sitting, how detrimental it is. I was given a set of exercises to perform every day.

    I slacked. Summer was coming and I figured, I'm getting plenty of activity and exercise as it is, don't worry about the back exercises.

    Boom. In late July, the back went out again. This time, the sciatic pain on both right and left sides. I cannot really describe, to someone who hasn't felt it, what this sort of pain feels like. I've now been struggling for seven weeks and still have the pain. It's getting better, slowly. During the day, I have long periods which are pain free. But waking up in the morning is an act of heroism on a daily basis.

    I'm seeing doctors at a spine center here in the city. X-ray reveals that I have a narrowing of the intervertebral space between L4 and L5. MRI will confirm tomorrow afternoon. I probably have a ruptured disc, which is bulging and pressing on the sciatic nerve at the point where it exits my spinal column.

    You may think, that's not from sitting, sitting doesn't produce the kind of forces which could rupture a spinal disc. Oh, but you're wrong!

    By sitting in a chair all the time, various stabilizer muscles in the back essentially go to "sleep." Over time these muscles because so deconditioned that it becomes impossible to consciously command them to contract -- in response to this, other, larger muscles of the back need to take over to provide the stabilization.

    When these big "mover" muscles stay contracted over long period of time they apply a compressive force along the spine and over time this can lead to damage to the discs.

    Combine that with my physical activities like running, hiking, backpacking, etc and I blew a disc.

    People, be careful. This is the kind of pain and dehabilitation that can make a person want to end it all. I'm not there -- so far, ibuprofen is able to keep the pain under control -- some people require heavy duty narcotics.
    Code:
    //try
    //{
    	if (a) do { f( b); } while(1);
    	else   do { f(!b); } while(1);
    //}

  2. #2
    Epy
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    Sorry you're in such bad shape, hope now that you realize the problem you can improve your situation.

    The other thing is, besides just sitting, to sit up completely straight as possible. Slouching or leaning over puts strain on your lower back and will give you the same problems as well. I've had some lower back pain myself and I've learned that just because a position *feels* comfortable doesn't mean it's a good position.

  3. #3
    SAMARAS std10093's Avatar
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    Back is really a critical body part for us, programmers!

    I remember in Switzerland a guy trying out a method of having his body stood-up? Something like this... Does anyone knows about this?

    Or, if any has any tips, such as Epy's "to sit up completely straight as possible", I think it would be a treasure to have it here.
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    Epy
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    A lot of people are opting for raised desks that require you to stand. In addition to keeping you upright, they allow you to live longer as well since the amount of time spent sedentary during the day is linked with life expectancy.

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    SAMARAS std10093's Avatar
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    Well, but I remember the guy, that he had his legs tired.. I would have my legs tired too and I play football almost every day. Imagine the moderate programmer.
    Code - functions and small libraries I use


    It’s 2014 and I still use printf() for debugging.


    "Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute. " —Harold Abelson

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    11DE784A SirPrattlepod's Avatar
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    Does this also apply to people, like me, who sit upside down?

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    Registered User manasij7479's Avatar
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    Name:  how-i-sit-on-computer_o_203791.jpg
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    If normal sitting can do all that, I wonder what this (flipped by 180 degrees...legs on table) will ultimately mean for me..
    Manasij Mukherjee | gcc-4.8.2 @Arch Linux
    Slow and Steady wins the race... if and only if :
    1.None of the other participants are fast and steady.
    2.The fast and unsteady suddenly falls asleep while running !



  8. #8
    Captain Crash brewbuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manasij7479 View Post

    If normal sitting can do all that, I wonder what this (flipped by 180 degrees...legs on table) will ultimately mean for me..
    Even with all that's happened to me, sitting here now, I keep catching myself sitting improperly. This is going to be a long, hard road.
    Code:
    //try
    //{
    	if (a) do { f( b); } while(1);
    	else   do { f(!b); } while(1);
    //}

  9. #9
    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    This kinda evokes the same feelings as the TED talk on tying your shoes correctly.

  10. #10
    Epy
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    Quote Originally Posted by brewbuck View Post
    Even with all that's happened to me, sitting here now, I keep catching myself sitting improperly. This is going to be a long, hard road.
    They're kind of lame, but an old boss of mine used to use one of those huge rubber balls (there's a different name I think) as they force you to right yourself and keep upright. Can't slouch or lean forward on them, you'll fall off. Could get a back brace as well.

  11. #11
    Captain Crash brewbuck's Avatar
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    I have a special cushion that I sit on which forces me to actively stabilize my back. Problem is I'm not supposed to use it when my symptoms are flaring as bad as they are. I'm also switching to a sit/stand desk config at work which should be helpful.
    Epy likes this.
    Code:
    //try
    //{
    	if (a) do { f( b); } while(1);
    	else   do { f(!b); } while(1);
    //}

  12. #12
    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brewbuck View Post
    I have a special cushion that I sit on which forces me to actively stabilize my back. Problem is I'm not supposed to use it when my symptoms are flaring as bad as they are. I'm also switching to a sit/stand desk config at work which should be helpful.
    Just be sure to make use of the latter function of that sit/stand desk
    A class that doesn't overload all operators just isn't finished yet. -- SmugCeePlusPlusWeenie
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    I use a foot rest to keep my back straight against the back of the chair.I think ergonomics training should be mandatory for people sitting at the computer all day.
    Epy likes this.
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    Hi,
    Thanks for the very good info. I have a desk job as probably most of you do as well. Can you please share some of the exercises that was recommended to you?

    Quick story:
    try this . Take off your shirt, stay in a relaxed stance and take a picture of yourself. Preferably with an auto timed camera. View the picture. You will see that your body alignment is completely off. Mine is anyways. My left shoulder is much higher than my right. Further more my hips are not aligned as well.

    One of my friends had this sort of posture. One day he was sitting on a chair with bad posture. Just relaxing. All of a sudden, as he was getting up, his lower back made a noise. Didn't take any notice. Next day he could not get out of bed, the pain was so excruciating.

    Remember to always stretch!!
    Last edited by bos1234; 09-11-2013 at 06:37 AM.

  15. #15
    SAMARAS std10093's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cfanatic View Post
    I use a foot rest to keep my back straight against the back of the chair.I think ergonomics training should be mandatory for people sitting at the computer all day.
    Hey cfanatic, long time to see you! Is that foot rest really helpful?
    Code - functions and small libraries I use


    It’s 2014 and I still use printf() for debugging.


    "Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute. " —Harold Abelson

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