Do you ever find yourself slouching in front of your computer? Or maybe you’ve been getting random back pains when you’re furiously typing away on your keyboard. You’re probably getting old, or worse, you’re still in your mid-twenties and you’re experiencing lower back pains more frequently.
It’s time to reevaluate your lifestyle choices because 2021 is the Year of the Ox, and you should be strong as one. (No really, you should have good back muscles for this year)
The Sitting Pandemic and Why it’s Bad
There’s another pandemic going on and it has existed longer than the coronavirus. It’s chronic sitting and it’s such a pain in the neck (or back, to be more specific.)
Sitting for prolonged periods of time has a lot of health consequences. Aside from the chronic back pain when you get older, this simple routine has been linked to increased incidence of cardiovascular diseases. If we were to compare two people with very similar diets and lifestyles, one of which has a desk job and one working out in the field, the former is more likely to die from a heart attack.
With most of work transitioning to comfortable home-based scenarios, people will be more inclined to sit longer in front of screens. In the US, 9,2 million people worked from home before the 20th century. In the last decade, that number rose to 13.4 million. If we did the math for the whole world, that’s at least 3 billion people working from home!
We can only imagine the rise of chronic diseases related to prolonged sitting in the next decades or so.
What Diseases Can Result from Prolonged Sitting
Here are a “few” diseases that can arise from chronic sitting.
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Mood DIsorders
- Spinal Misalignment
- Varicose Veins
- …and a lot more
How Weak Back Muscles Contribute To Slouching and Vice Versa
Sitting for too long cannot be avoided because most of our jobs will involve a computer. (Or because our culture revolves entirely on looking at a screen). Having strong back muscles make sure you can maintain a proper and comfortable posture that has less health consequences.
Prolonged sitting already has serious health consequences. Making sure you don’t slouch has added benefits. A slouching posture also contributes to back, shoulder, and neck pain. Since slouching also limits the available space your lungs can expand into, you will feel noticeably weaker because of reduced oxygen available for your body. That’s also the reason why you feel sleepy when you slouch.
Slouching as a result of weak back muscles also limit your digestive tract’s ability to function properly. The intestines are squished and will make the passage of food material difficult. Staying still for a long period of time will not help your intestines digest and absorb nutrients, so constipation and lightheadedness are common outcomes.
How to Strengthen Your Back Muscles
After a long day at work, the next best thing to do is relax. But if you dedicate some time to improving your health, then a fitness routine could do you some good. Before you put on your gym outfit, always consult with your local gym instructor on how to do routines properly. Anytime Fitness and Blast Fitness have certified instructors to make sure you’re safe while doing exercises.
If you own a gym or there are gyms that operate in the midst of the pandemic, then you can try these exercises to strengthen your lower back. These will include weightlifting routines for both upper and lower back to correct posture.
- Deadlifts (the most important back exercise for lower back)
- Pullups (helps strengthen shoulders)
- Machine Rows (helps strengthen your shoulder muscles and middle back muscles)
- Hyper Extensions (very important for your lower back and core muscles)
- T-bar Row (a standing up version of the deadlift with more focus on your upper back)
- Barbell Rows (helps strengthen your rear shoulders)
If you don’t have the luxury of time going to the gym, you can perform these at home instead:
Quadruped Arm/Leg Stretch
This involves getting down on all fours and stretching your right arm in front of you and stretching your left leg out and back, then alternating with the left arm and right leg.
This is done by lying on your side then propping against your elbow while your forearm is pointed perpendicular to your body. It strengthens the muscles on the sides of your abdomen to help straighten your posture.
Cat and Camel
This is the starting position of the quadruped arm/leg stretch. While you are down on all fours, you stretch your back upwards, akin to a cat stretching, or imitating camel humps, then you relax.
This is the easiest among the four as it involves you laying flat on your stomach then raising your neck and upper half of your body slowly. This is the horizontal equivalent of stretching your arms out and arching your back, except you’re on the floor.