In our modern, technology-driven world, the prevalence of driving and sitting for work has dramatically increased. While these sedentary activities are often considered harmless, they can have a profound impact on our musculoskeletal health if you do not take measures to maintain a healthy active lifestyle. Any extended sitting — such as behind a wheel, in front of a screen, or at a desk — can be harmful.
This article from our orthopedic surgeons explores the hidden toll sitting and driving can take on our bodies and offers steps to help you reduce hip pain, knee pain, and shoulder pain.
The Sitting Epidemic: A Closer Look at How Sitting Affects the Body
The sedentary nature of driving for work and sitting at a desk leads to what many health experts now refer to as the “sitting epidemic.”
Hip Pain, Knee Pain & Shoulder Pain from Work-Related Sitting
Prolonged periods of sitting with poor posture and an unhealthy weight combined with an inactive lifestyle can contribute to a myriad of orthopedic issues, ranging from mild discomfort to severe chronic conditions in your knees, hips, and shoulders. Osteoarthritis is a type of wear-and-tear arthritis that is most common in weight-bearing joints like your knees and hips. Although sitting doesn’t cause OA, staying inactive for extended periods can stiffen the joints and make it harder to move when you get up.
Moreover, sitting for long hours can result in poor posture, which further exacerbates orthopedic issues. Slouching in front of a computer screen can strain the neck and shoulders, causing stiffness and shoulder pain. When you ignore or push through the pain and discomfort for months or even years, it has consequences.
The Trucker & Commuter Realities: Prolonged Driving Impacts Your Health
For many individuals, driving and commuting is an unavoidable part of their daily life. Whether it’s driving to work or spending hours behind the wheel, the impact on your orthopedic health can be substantial if you don’t maintain a healthy active lifestyle. A primary reason is the static posture during driving, which places significant stress on the spine, hips, and knees. The repetitive motion of sitting in a fixed position can lead to hip pain, knee pain, shoulder pain, muscle imbalances and joint stiffness.
Preventative Steps to Help Reduce Shoulder Pain, Hip Pain and Knee Pain from Sitting or Driving
While sitting and driving are often non-negotiable aspects of modern life, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk of orthopedic injuries:
- Ergonomic Workspaces: Creating an ergonomic workstation is crucial for maintaining good posture and reducing the risk of musculoskeletal issues. Adjustable chairs, proper desk height, and computer monitors positioned at eye level can contribute to a more comfortable and supportive work environment. Stand up desks are good, but just like sitting, too much standing can also cause discomfort and injuries from wearing improper shoes, not maintaining good posture and/or leaning on one leg.
- Regular Breaks and Stretching: Incorporating short breaks into your workday is essential for preventing stiffness and muscle tension. Simple stretches and movements can help improve your circulation and reduce the strain on your muscles and joints. Desk exercises, such as neck rotations, shoulder stretches, and seated leg lifts, can be easily incorporated into a daily routine.
- Proper Driving Posture: Maintaining proper posture while driving a passenger or commercial vehicle is vital for preventing orthopedic issues. Adjusting the seat to provide adequate lumbar support, keeping the knees at hip level, and positioning the steering wheel at a comfortable height can contribute to a more ergonomic driving experience.
- Regular Physical Activity: Engaging in regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight are the cornerstones of musculoskeletal health. Incorporating exercises that strengthen the core, improve flexibility, and promote overall fitness can help counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting. Studies have shown that 60-75 minutes of physical activity each day can counteract the physical and mental effects of prolonged sitting.
- Seeking Professional Guidance: Individuals experiencing persistent pain or discomfort for 1 week or longer should seek the advice of healthcare professionals, such as the orthopedic specialists at OrthoEdge in Jacksonville & Macclenny, FL. Our experts can provide personalized guidance and recommendations to address your specific orthopedic issues.
In conclusion, the orthopedic toll of sitting at a desk or driving all day is a significant concern that requires proactive measures. By prioritizing ergonomic practices, regular movement, and a holistic approach to musculoskeletal health, you can reduce the risks associated with these common daily activities.
If you are experiencing pain and discomfort from too much sitting, we specialize in treating hip pain, knee pain, and shoulder pain in the most minimally invasive ways possible.