One of the most obvious symptoms of sitting disease in the eyes of physical therapists and other healthcare practitioners is often left completely off the list, and that symptom is “disuse atrophy.” Simply put, disuse atrophy is when a muscle shrinks due to inactivity.
Our bodies are meant to move throughout the day, and prolonged inactivity will cause muscle groups to deteriorate and lose mass. If you’ve ever had a cast for more than a couple weeks, you may remember how difficult it was to use your arm or leg when you first removed the cast. Disuse atrophy is a nightmare for professional athletes recovering from an injury, and for astronauts spending months in zero gravity. But disuse atrophy also affects regular office workers, particularly those who sit for hours at a time.
When you walk, and even when you stand, your spine is supported by your abdominal and back muscles. But according to an article by Hollistic Nutritionist Michelle Dawn, sitting for too long will affect your abs and back muscles, particularly your erector spinae muscles, which run parallel along your spine. These muscles are essential for stabilizing your back, and their deterioration can lead to permanent damage to your spinal structures and cause back pain.
It doesn’t get better below the waist, either. This Washington Post infographic highlights many of the ways sitting harms our bodies, and what is most clear is that the problems don’t end with the back and abs. Some of the worst disuse atrophy occurs in the hip flexors and the glutes, which govern your range of motion and give you the power to push off from your seat.
Atrophy in these muscle groups results in weak, inflexible hips and a shorter stride. Prolonged sitting can also cause atrophy in your glutes. Weak glute muscles can also lead to hip bursitis, in which your hip bursa—fluid sacs that act as a lubricant between tissues in your hips—become painfully swollen. All of this deterioration happens every day to unsuspecting office workers
The Solution to Sitting Disease Is Simple: station
The best way to combat sitting disease is simply to get out of your seat! For desk-bound office workers trying to eke more movement out of their day, a sit-stand height adjustable standing desk is a natural solution. Walking at sit-stand height adjustable standing desk engages your the muscle groups affected by prolonged sitting, increases focus and productivity, and lowers the risk of developing the many associated health effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Sit-stand height adjustable standing desk is an indispensable tool for improving your health and well-being at the office without interrupting your work flow.