The Sitting Epidemic

We have the pleasure of having Dr. Mahmoud Zaerian (DC, CSCS, BA Kin) back for round two as a guest writer! He is doing a three part series on body mechanics (see his first post here). Today he is giving us some insight on what happens to our bodies while sitting and some helpful exercises to correct imbalance.  If you missed my post on when body meets chair be sure to check that out too!  And now… Dr. Z! 

     As mentioned in my previous post, the way in which we treat the body has changed.   Instead of separate parts, we should see the body as one interconnected tissue.  Instead of treating the area of pain, say for example the knee, we need to look for and treat the dysfunction. 

So how does the body enter dysfunction in the first place? 

     Every activity places stress on our body.  When these activities become a daily occurrence, the muscles we use strengthen and tighten.  And while this repetitive movement creates strength in one area, it can create weak links in the muscles and joints that are not being used.   These weak links ultimately lead to injuries, pain and discomfort.

Can you guess what activity we spend anywhere from 6-16 hours of our day doing?


     Sitting is a repetitive behaviour.   Much of our population is at the latter end of the 6-16 hour spectrum with occupations that require sitting at a desk.  As a result, our bodies have adapted to this constant activity by creating tension in some areas and weakness in others.  It’s no wonder that our society has a common posture of forward rounded shoulders, excessive arch in the mid back, tight hips and tight muscles in the backs of our legs.   

So what does this mean?

     The weak links created by this tension can lead to a reduced range of motion and weak muscles.  It’s the body’s way of compensating, or adapting to the repetitive stress of sitting.   Over time, this chronic stress may affect the nervous system, resulting in poor nutrition to joints and tissues and the development of chronic pain.   Many of our common complains like headaches or back pain stem from sitting for prolonged periods of time. 

Great!  How can I fix this, or prevent it from getting worse?

     Given that most of us are not able to drastically change our lives by finding a new job, we will continue to sit for hours a day.   Thus, it is important to address the key areas that are affected with movement, mobilization and stretching techniques.   Below are two techniques to start with.  Completing a neuro-functional assessment with a trained professional is ideal, as they can create a treatment plan tailored to your needs.   I complete a functional assessment with every patient, to not only address the problem area, but to also evaluate areas which are not functioning optimally for speedy recovery and long term health. 

     In the final part of this blog post, I will share with you some new insights on optimal ways to exercise this large interconnected tissue we call our body.

1. Place a foam roller in the middle of your upper back.  Drape yourself over the foam roller, allowing your hips and head to fall on either side.  Place your hands under your head to avoid over extension.  

Hold for 30 seconds.

2. Lie on the foam roller from head to tailbone, in line with your spinal column.  Keep your chin tucked in and back flat.  Allow your arms to fall on the side until you feel a stretch across your chest.  

Hold for 60 seconds.

Stay tuned for my final post on the ins and outs of proper training!

Dr. Z

Dr. Mahmoud Zaerian is a practising chiropractor in the city of Toronto and has been in the health field for 13 years working with the city's top amateur athletes, including the Canadian women's Olympic hockey team. He practises an integrative approach to the care of the individual including various manual techniques as well as the implementation of mind/body techniques to impact the body. Providing sound education and focused care, Dr. Z works with his patients to bring forth a whole new level of health and performance.

You can learn more about Dr. Z here: 
FOCUS Integrative Therapy & Conditioning  or e-mail him here:


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