Many people understand that when a large force is applied to the spine there is potential for damage. An example would be falling on your bottom and damaging a disc in your back. However, would you believe that we can cause just as much damage to our back just by sitting and doing nothing!! Understanding how our tissues work in our body will help you to understand why.
Our muscles, tendons and ligaments have elastic like properties called viscoelastic properties and this means our tissues are capable of deforming and returning to normal under their elastic limits. If you think of stretching an elastic band, it will return to normal, as long as you don’t use too much force- this works the same for our tissues.
Now thinking back to the fall scenario, if we fall on our bottom and exceed the discs elastic potential, we will cause tissue failure and damage the disc. This potentially causes further neurological issues. However, we can achieve similar tissue failure if we are sitting in poor positions for prolonged periods of time- like many of us do.
Imagine working 8-10 hours a day with poor posture behind a desk, 5 days a week 10-11 months of the year. It adds up and eventually we are going cause serious damage to our bodies and have tissue failure.
This chart shows what happens over time as we sustain a constant force to a viscoelastic tissue for a long period of time. Eventually the tissue can’t handle the force anymore and it fails- just like snapping an elastic band. When we sit for prolonged periods of time with poor posture, we are not providing the necessary stability for our spine.
I’m not saying there is one perfect position to sit, however there are certainly preferable positions and techniques to help you preserve your spine and the tissues surrounding it.
For more information on posture and spinal stability come down to Neurohealth, I am happy to help!