What EXACTLY happens to your body when you sit at a desk all day

From office bum to tech neck: What EXACTLY happens to your body when you sit at a desk all day – and what to do about it

  • Sitting down for eight plus hours each day has huge effects on our bodies
  • From office bum to tech neck, here FEMAIL looks at some of the impacts
  • Speaking to FEMAIL, a posture expert and Pilates instructor shares her wisdom 
  • She explains how you can combat office bum, tech neck and bad posture

One too many late nights spent sitting at your desk has worse consequences than those associated with your happiness.

In fact, sitting down for eight plus hours a day has a huge impact on your health, too.

From office bum to tech neck and poor posture, here with the help of the biomechanics and posture expert and Pilates instructor, Dell-Maree Day, FEMAIL takes a look at what exactly happens to your body when you’re desk-bound all day.

Ms Day also reveals what you can do about it.

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From office bum to tech neck and poor posture, here FEMAIL takes a look at what exactly happens to your body when you’re desk-bound all day (stock image)

Here with the help of the biomechanics and posture expert with years of experience in the Pilates industry, Dell-Maree Day (pictured), you can find out what to do

THE PROBLEM 

According to Ms Day, while it might be easy to demonise the chair or desk at which you spend the bulk of your week, in fact they wouldn’t be to blame if we just used them properly.

‘Sitting or standing at our desks wouldn’t be such a drain on our health if all 639 muscles were working as a team,’ she said.

In fact, most of the time when you’re slumped in front of your computer screen, you’re only using around ten of these 639.

‘Sitting or standing poorly is the result of some muscles working way too hard and hundreds of muscles not working at all,’ she said.

This muscle imbalance, Ms Day said, ‘pulls the entire spine, neck and shoulders out of portion and distorts more than 100 joints’.

The ex-Pilates instructor, who has recently designed a course – The Invisible Exercise – to help to improve people’s posture, explained that if you sit well, you will notice the difference instantaneously.

‘Sitting well helps you to avoid aches, pains and injuries,’ she said. ‘But it also helps to boost concentration and energy levels, giving your internal organs the space they need to function well.’

But what about what happens when you don’t? FEMAIL takes a look.

‘Office butt is the direct result of the muscle in front of the hip flexor working too hard pulling the spine into a nasty C shape,’ Ms Day said (stock image)

Should you want to avoid a pancake-flat bum, Ms Day (pictured left) recommends you ‘move away from the back of your chair every hour or so and place your feet under your knees’

OFFICE BUM AND WHAT TO DO

If you’ve caught yourself looking in the mirror wondering why your bum isn’t as round and pert as that of a fitness model, then remember this.

Alongside the gruelling fitness regime and nutritious diet, she likely doesn’t sit at a desk all day – which in turn causes the muscles in the bum to switch off and flatten,

‘Office butt is the direct result of the muscle in front of the hip flexor working too hard pulling the spine into a nasty C shape, so way too much weight sinks down into the lower gluteals and top of the thigh,’ Ms Day explained.

‘This causes that area to widen on your chair and it’s as if you are pinned to your chair via your widening bum.’

Should you want to avoid a pancake-flat bum, Ms Day recommends you ‘move away from the back of your chair every hour or so and place your feet under your knees with a fist-sized space between your feet and knees’.

Then, she said, you should sit as tall and relaxed as you possibly can ‘so that you feel your spine start to stack itself up correctly’.

Scientifically, what this does is it re-instates your lumbar curve and instantly helps the ‘buttock muscles to work correctly’.

‘Do this for a week or two, and you’ll never have to worry about office butt again,’ Ms Day added. 

‘Tech neck describes the stress on the neck of looking down at screens while our spine sinks into the C shape,’ Ms Day explained (stock image)

TECH NECK AND WHAT TO DO

Another effect that sitting down all day can have on you is tech neck.

‘Tech neck describes the stress on the neck of looking down at screens while our spine sinks into the C shape,’ Ms Day explained.

‘All this compression throughout the entire spine pulls the head forward, leading to high levels of stress around the neck.’ 

The best way to avoid tech neck is to ensure your screen is placed at the correct height for you, so that when you are sitting tall and relaxed, your eye is in line with the top one third of the screen.

‘This will make sure your entire spine is healthy including your neck and your head can now sit correctly over your spine,’ she said.

The spine is most loaded when you’re sitting down, so sitting poorly for eight or nine hours a day is not recommended (stock image)

BAD POSTURE AND WHAT TO DO

SIT YOURSELF SLIM 

* Move away from the back half of your chair and sit towards the front.

* Place your feet beneath your knees flat.

* They need to be a fist-sized distance apart from each other.

* Relax your arms. 

* Think about being as tall, but as natural as possible.

* Notice your spine stack up naturally. 

* Look straight ahead of you.

* Breathe in through your nose, and out through the mouth.

* As you breathe out, think about your sternum [breast bone] connecting through to your spine.

* This should activate your deepest abdominal muscle and work your abdominals – causing a flat stomach. 

You can attend all the Pilates classes you like, but if you don’t put into practice what you learn on the mat in your day-to-day life, then you’ll never have really good posture.

‘Posture is a general term referring to the underlying position of bone or skeletal alignment,’ Ms Day said.

‘It’s common to have poor posture not just in sitting, but in standing, running, working out, cycling and swimming,’ she said.

However, the spine is most loaded when you’re sitting down, so sitting poorly for eight or nine hours a day is not recommended.

‘The simplest and most effective way to help your posture improve during your working day is to move away from the back of your chair,’ Ms Day reinforced.

‘Your body knows how to sit well so slumping in your chair is not the answer. Neither is thinking that lunchtime run will cure all.’

Once you’re sitting towards the front of your chair, Ms Day recommends you relax so that your spine naturally stacks itself up and ‘hundreds and hundreds of supporting muscles begin to work for you.

‘You’ll look and feel better and burn more calories, while you sit down,’ she added. 

‘Sitting with good posture can alleviate aches and pains and helps to oxygenate the body correctly,’ Ms Day said – it also helps you to feel more energetic and productive

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO THIS APPROACH?  

Alongside a flat stomach, there are many benefits to simply sitting correctly:

‘Sitting with good posture can alleviate aches and pains and helps to oxygenate the body correctly,’ Ms Day said.

‘When you breathe better, your productivity will increase and you will feel more calm and energised.’

‘Unlike pricey gym equipment, posture and breathing is much more accessible. You can do it anywhere, anytime – and will see the benefits far faster than exercise.’

‘Every muscle in our 639 muscles is critically and equally important. It’s vital to remember this when sitting down or thinking about your posture,’ she said.     

Ms Day is the brains behind a programme -The Invisible Exercise – which aims to strengthen your body through posture training and help improve your entire system.

For more information about The Invisible Exercise, you can visit the website here.   

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