5 ways sitting is killing your nerves

How often do you sit? Think about it for a second. 

You sit in a car on the way to work probably in traffic. You sit at your desk for eight hours and maybe get up for 30 minutes at lunch just to sit again. On the way home, you sit in your car now in more traffic, only to sit on the couch to watch TV.

Sound familiar? 

Sitting, though comfortable, is not healthy for our bodies. In fact, sitting does more harm than good. Our bodies were meant to stand. The natural curvature of the spine supports the weight of our body evenly. The longer one sits, the more strenuous it becomes for the body. 

If you suffer with nerve pain, sitting for long periods of time is slowly damaging the nerves over time. Sitting can affect the nerves most vulnerable to pain sensations, such as tingling, burning or stabbing pain. 

Before I get into the dangers of sitting, this is a great time to stand, stretch or do a little dance in place. 

Let’s explore how sitting is quickly becoming the silent killer of nerve pain.

Increased Blood Sugar

For those of you living with diabetic neuropathy, high blood sugar should come as no surprise to increased nerve pain. Managing your blood sugar is key to managing nerve pain caused by long periods of sitting. It’s easy to manage your blood sugar with a proper diet (preferably gluten-free) and regular exercise. However, watching how long you sit can play a larger role in affecting your blood sugar. 

Did You Know?

According to the American Diabetes Association, the average American sits more than 7 hours a day.

Increased Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is dangerous for anyone and can be avoided with the help of walking, standing or even stretching. If your blood pressure increases due to sitting, it can damage your arteries. High blood pressure is not only damaging to the nerves, but it can lead to heart failure, stroke or heart disease. 

Poor Circulation

Sitting for prolonged hours can lead to poor circulation throughout the body. Once circulation slows down due to sitting, your blood remains in the feet and legs, ultimately reducing blood flow. For those suffering with nerve pain, the lack of nutrients and oxygen from a proper blood flow can be harmful. Symptoms such as tingling or numbness escalate even more. Be sure to stand and stretch every 10-15 minutes to keep the blood flowing. 

Pinched Nerves

Pinched nerves are a result of sitting too long or as a result of bad posture. Most pinched nerves are felt in the lower back due to the sciatic nerve. They can also be felt in the neck, legs or wrists depending on how you are sitting. You may feel a tingling or burning sensation as result of a pinched nerve making your neuropathy symptoms worse. 

Muscle Deterioration  

Muscle loss is a common symptom of nerve pain, in particular peripheral neuropathy. Sitting for hours on end can cause the muscles to shrink due to restricted movement. For some, the severity can be partial to complete loss of muscle function. Do your best to move those legs. Any movement is better than none. 

Here are some tips to help get the body moving after a long day of siting, both at the office and at home. 

DIY office tips: 

  • Stand or stretch every 30 minutes. Feel free to do leg lifts from your office chair or roll your arms to the front and the back. 
  • Try to sit up at all times. Good posture is key. 
  • Request an ergonomic chair as needed. Sitting ergonomically correct can also support good posture, while typing on the computer. 
  • Request a standing desk as needed. More employers are offering the choice for employees to try a standing desk. It can help to switch it up after a few hours of sitting. 
  • Instead of emailing, walk over to your colleague’s office, in addition to getting you moving, the conversation may spur additional ideas. 

DIY home tips: 

  • If you’re going to watch TV after a long day of work, get up and stretch during the commercials. Go ahead and try a few jumping jacks, squats or leg lifts to the side. 
  • For those with a treadmill, watch your favorite late-night show while walking. Enjoy the best of both worlds. 
  • If you want a little fresh air, go for a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood before you plop down on the couch. Take a walk to the mailbox and back or take the family pet out for a brisk walk. 
  • Enjoy gardening? Summer is here, so why not plant a garden full of colorful vegetables. Gardening is good for the mind, body and soul. 

The best thing anyone can do is to stay active and keep moving. Daily stretches or walks will help support proper circulation and reduce further health complications. 

For additional information on nerve pain relief, call Loma Linda University Health Neuropathic Therapy Center at 909-558-6799.

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