Part I – all about the simple posture of the idea of the stand up desk.
Neurologists involved in a research paper back in the late 90’s suggested you could stretch your spinal cord 3 inches simply from the involved stretch of “forward head carriage” that occurs while sitting at a desk. Little was discussed about the impact of that stretch, other than it was happening.
a three inch stretch of the elastic tissue that makes up your cord, can reduce the diameter of the cord by approximately 50%. This is a neurological tissue loaded with nerve pathways, with virtually no wasted space at all. To remain in a static position of stretch for any length of time, is a degenerative process.
So, to re-state, if you sit for any length of time with your head shifted forward, you are creating a spinal cord degenerative state.
One reason why we have been recommending stand up desks, is to reduce the damage that comes from forward head carriage.
Next – consider the impact on your lumbar spine. The low back discs have had their pressure measured, and the increase on the discs has been found to be up to a 50% increase in pressure. Couple this with the fact that most people slouch to one side or the other, and now we have a recipe for disaster.
The slouching creates a wedged position of one vertebra on the other. This wedge happens when we lean to a side, and one vertebra will lean more to one edge, causing the pressure in the disc to be greater on that side, thus it wants to protrude out the other. If this lateral slouch stays consistent for years, the disc will wear more on one side, and the likelihood of herniation goes up.
I had once read a report that suggested that 90% of the population over the age of 40, is walking around with a diagnosable disc protrusion. Which is why 80% of the population, at some point, will have a low back situation. The chances are high. Very high. We need to figure out how to fix this! Maybe this is the new position?
(compliments of businesschicks.com)
Lets not forget to consider the over rotation of the shoulders and arms when seated. Granted, this one we do not completely correct simply by standing, but by being upright and drawing the shoulders back, the arms are not rotated quite as much towards midline. If you are having difficulty picturing this one, just hold something in your arms. Sit up or stand up straight, and then draw your elbows back as far back along your sides as possible. Now, while beginning to slouch, push your arms forward. You will notice that your chest muscles tighten, and your shoulders have to rotate internally.
If you continue this position for length, you will both strain the rotator cuff muscles, and you will shorten the pectoral muscles of your chest. This creates shoulder instability. It is the hardest problem to overcome of being a chiropractor. I can work and undo the postural damage of being bent over, but it is very hard to overcome the impact of the momentary thrust into a rotated shoulder position. Every time we perform a manual adjustment, we are creating this problem. 385,000 times for my body so far in my career.
We are going to continue this discussion on Wednesday, and move to understanding how the stand up desk will mitigate many of these problems.
Be well and be blessed! – Dr. E
Featured image compliments of coreoanoke.com)