The 5 Dangers Of Sitting In A Bad Posture For Hours

Sitting for too long is bad for your health. Sitting for too long in the wrong posture is A LOT worse.
Read about the dangers and what you can do to avoid them in this post.

A post on health might seem like an odd topic to find here given the theme of this blog; however, this topic is directly related to my journey. In fact, the entire thing is dependent on it.


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Working on this blog is something I do while sat down. But it’s not just that, almost everything I’m doing, I do while sitting down starring at something, either reading for studies, writing assignments/homework, working on every single job I’ve ever had, watching TV, typing a blog post, researching a topic, or just scrolling through social media pages, etc.

That is a lot of sitting down! And this can be seriously dangerous if you are not paying attention to how long you are doing this and the way you are actually doing it.

I have been suffering from neck and shoulder pain for quite a long time, but only in recent months did it become so intolerable that I was forced to do a checkup, to find I have severe tight neck muscles and some kind of irritation in my cervical spine nerves (aka a pinched nerve).

An irritation in the cervical spine causes “pain that radiates into the shoulder, as well as muscle weakness and numbness that travels down the arm and into the hand.”

I have been taking medications and getting ultrasound therapy. But it’s not like the flu; and it doesn’t go away that quickly or that easily. I have been getting treatment on and off for the past 5-6 months. And many of the medications I have taken had some nasty side effects. So this is no walk in the park, it is bad and painful.

And I must say that, for the most part, I have been entirely dependent on the medications alone to do their magic and fix this, without much effort on my part.

But I’ve reached to a point where I got sick and tired of always being in horrific pain whenever I have to use my arm to carry something or, mistakenly, lean on it when I’m getting out of bed and feel as if a power drill is punching a hole through my shoulder.

So, I started to do some reading into this to try and find things that I can do on my part, to help fix this along with the medications.

But, first, let me tell you how bad this can actually get and why you should pay attention too!

How Sitting For Long Periods Of Time Affects Your Health

Sitting is the new smoking is a study made in the US claiming that sitting for one hour straight is as unhealthy as smoking two cigarettes.

They explain that sitting still for over 6 hours a day is as unhealthy for your body as smoking a pack and a quarter of cigarettes in a day. 

And that according to a study focused on the causes of chronic diseases, it is found that sitting for long hours is the number one contributer to developing a chronic disease (in the US).

Another study conducted by a number of leading professors in the UK was made on sedentary behaviour and its effect on both young and adults. And it concludes that sitting for long durations of time can cause obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and early death.

How To Avoid These Issues

It is highly advised that in order to avoid the serious health issues that accompanies sitting for too long, you should have a break every 30 minutes.

So every 30 minutes you need to get up for one or two minutes; you can do some stretches, walk to get a drink, or just do any kind of movement to break the idle position that your body has been in for the past 30 minutes.

There are some apps that are created specifically to help you do that, or you can simply set a timer on your phone for 30 minutes to work as a reminder that it’s time for you to move.

5 Ways A Bad Sitting Posture Affects Your Health

Image by medicaldaily.com

As per multiple studies and scientific researches made on the negative side effects of sitting in a wrong posture, it is found that your sitting posture can affect you in many more ways than just the way your body looks.

1. Back and spinal column

Starting the list with the more obvious problem that arises from sitting in a bad posture: back pain.

Sitting in a wrong posture can cause pain in the upper back, lower back, and the neck. The pain can also spread to include your arms, hands, legs and feet, depending on the part affected in the spinal column.

One of the medical conditions it can lead to is a pinched nerve.

Beside the fact that it causes a lot of pain, a pinched nerve, if left untreated, can cause chronic pain and permanent nerve damage which can lead to a disability, depending on the area controlled by the affected nerves.

And it is quite alarming to know that, according to this research, for every 2.5 cm your head moves forward, you add 0.45 kg of extra wight on your spine. A human’s head weighs between 4.5 and 5.5 kg.

So, if you are starring down at your phone, for example, that is about 13 cm of leaning forward which adds 5.85 kg of extra weight on your neck and spine. Adding to that the actual head weight, and you get an average of 11 kg of weight that is being dragged by your neck and spinal column. That is also the average weight of a 2-year old child.

2. Lungs and breathing

When you are sitting in a pitched forward position, the lungs slump forward and become compressed with the diaphragm moving up further in the chest which decreases the amount of oxygen entering your lungs by 30%.

Decreasing your oxygen intake, in turn, affects your energy levels and your ability to concentrate. It will also lead to feelings of fatigue and cause headaches.

3. Blood pressure

According to a study made in the UK, scientists found that sitting in the wrong posture where your shoulders and back are slouched is likely to affect your blood pressure.

The neck muscle cells signal the brain when sensing movement in the neck, to ensure adequate blood supply as the body changes posture. This system, however, breaks down when cells incur damage from poor posture, resulting in blood pressure either higher or lower than optimum.

4. Digestive organs

Sitting in a slouched posture compresses the digestive organs which can make them incapable of functioning properly. It slows the movement of your intestines which can cause digestion problems such as bloating or constipation.

This effect on digestive organs can also impact your metabolism.

5. Mental health

From my own take and what I noticed, when you are slouched in your chair, it creates a feeling of laziness and sometimes you’d feel down or easily irritated, unlike when you are straightened up, it feels like you are more open, awake and active.

And according to this research publication, the posture in which you are sitting does indeed affect your mood. A bad/slouched posture leads to being more prone to and easily affected by negative thoughts and emotions; while sitting in an upright position reduces stress and generally enhances the person’s mood and their mindset.

And as another experiment concluded, people that sit in an upright posture tend to easily remember more positive memories and have positive thoughts than those in a bad posture.

What Is A Good Sitting Posture?

There are a few things that you need to pay attention to when you sit down in order to make sure you are in the right posture.

  • Your feet should be flat on the ground with your knees making a right angle and are at the same level as your hips or slightly lower.
  • Your back is straight and chest is stretched so that your shoulders are not slouched/arched.
  • Your head is positioned where your chin is parallel to your hips and your ears paralleled to your shoulders.
Image by medicaldaily.com
A video by posture coach Michelle Janice showing how to sit up straight.

4 Things To Help Maintain A Good Sitting Posture

All that doctors have been saying over and over is that I should keep a good posture, “try to always sit with a straightened back and stretched
shoulders and don’t lean forward with your head.”

So, I am completely aware that this is what I am supposed to do. But how do I keep that posture for the entire 5-7 hours I am sitting on my laptop?

I’m only able to maintain this position when conscious about my posture, but then I get distracted with what I’m actually doing and, an hour later, I find myself back to the hunched-over-the-laptop position with slouched shoulders and forward neck again.

This happens because, to me, this is the more natural and comfortable position, where I don’t have to be all the way stretched. So, I needed a more practical solution.

Here are 4 things I do that can help keep a good, healthy posture for as long as you are sitting.

1. Sit on a cushion

Because sometimes the desk and chair I’m sitting on are not in good alignment where my arms and elbows are in a perfect straight line position.

In my case, it is usually that the chair is lower than the desk, and so I sit on a cushion which helps me maintain that position.

2. Roll pillow behind your back

This has been a real savior. Because, like I mentioned earlier, it can get really uncomfortable when I try to keep my back in a straight position for a long time, so putting a roll pillow* or roll cushion behind my back works as a support for the middle part of my back which both makes me feel way more comfortable and it sort of automatically enhances the way I’m sitting anyway without much effort on my part.

But even when I tend to slouch a little bit, it also works as a continuous reminder to get back to the right position.

3. Place the laptop at an arm’s length

This could be something that most people do already, but I only realized that recently and, oh my god, it is such a relief when I type now.

I have always had my laptop placed right at the edge of the desk and so my arms and elbows are usually just hanging the entire time I’m typing, which causes more pressure and therefore more pain in my shoulders.

How to make sure that you are in a good, comfortable posture where your arm is always supported is if you push the laptop far on the desk, so that your arms up until your elbows are supported by the desk itself and then type that way.

There is also a really helpful video that shows even more ways to help you keep a good posture, not just while sitting on a computer but when watching TV, playing games, or using your phone. You can watch it here.

4. Set a timer

Setting a timer to alert you every 15-20 minutes can work as a reminder to both move around or straighten up and correct your posture. There are even some phone and computer apps that can help you do this.

But if you are not interested in an application, you can simply create several alarms on your phone, or a timer every 15-20 minutes, as a posture reminder.

5. Stretches

One of the things that can help maintain a good posture at all times is if your body feels relaxed and comfortable at that posture. And one way to get your body to that level of comfort is if you do certain stretches that help with the back and upper body’s flexibility, so that keeping a straightened back and stretched shoulders no longer feels uncomfortable or weird (or, like me, makes you feel like a cyborg).

Below are some example stretches that I do. You can find more of them and information about each pose and its benefits here.

Standing cat-cow. Image by yoffielife.com.
Active child’s pose. Image by yoffielife.com.

Downward-Facing dog stretch. Image by forteyoga.com

Standing forward fold pose. Image by forteyoga.com

And eventually, if you are already suffering (like me), here are a few things to help with that too.

5 Things To Help Relief Back Pain

1. Heating pad

Placing a hot water bottle* or a heating pad* (this is the one I use) on the area of your back or neck that hurts can reduce the pain, because the heat relaxes the muscles and speeds the blood flow to that area. This is one of the things that I have been advised to do for my neck and shoulder pain and part of the physical therapy treatment I am getting.

2. Herbal cream

There are some herbal creams available that help ease muscle pain. They are made entirely of natural ingredients; however, you should still consult a doctor before using any.

You would simply take a sufficient amount of cream on the tip of your fingers and start applying it on the affected area. It can work even better if you do so after you have applied the heating pad.

3. Massage

A massage, especially in the neck and shoulders area, can work as a great pain relief because mostly the pain in this area is caused by the pressure put on those muscles to hold your head. So, by massaging that area, you help those tightened muscles to loosen and relax.

You can simply massage the area with your hand, go to a spa, or you can buy a massager that you can use at home or at work. (I found the latter to be a more convenient option and so I use a similar Shaitsu massager to this one*).

4. Stretches

Doing the same stretches above can also help relief back pain. But you can find more exercises related to relieving back pain in this article.

5. Medical treatment

This is of course an obvious step to take if you are indeed suffering from such pain, because leaving it untreated for a long time can cause even more damage which would take a longer treatment period or worse, could cause a permanent damage to your body.

So make sure you consult your doctor to get the right advice and treatment needed for your situation.

Till next week, happy days (and healthy bodies)!

*Disclaimer: Links with* are affiliate links. Meaning that, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase through one of these links, you are supporting me to get a small commission from this sale.

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A Laptop Dilemma..Mac vs Everything Else?

Photo by Pexels

Here’s a somewhat huge hiccup on the way..

I had a different post planned for this week, but due to unforeseen changes, I am writing about this laptop predicament.

Since literally everything I do in my life right now is either dependent on or done through a computer and an internet connection, having both of them up and running at all times is a matter of life or death!

And, I must say, I’m quite furious at my laptop right now for crashing (for the third time in less than 2 months) and forcing me to write this week’s post on my iPad. For me, writing on a touch screen is as tormenting as it gets. I mean I text on a touch screen, but I’m not used to “writing” in that manner. I feel like my thoughts just go out the window when I have to “tap” them all out; besides, a few minutes into writing and my fingers and hand muscles start to ache. I’m still thankful though that I didn’t have to do this on my teeny-tiny 5s screen…

So, I need to get a new laptop, but I need some help deciding on which brand/model I should get.

I’m currently using the 2009 16″ Satellite A355 Toshiba laptop. It has been working great up until recently and, not to be ungrateful, I honestly believe no other laptop would have lasted that long with my heavy workload and my unfriendly (and sometimes abusive) usage habits. It almost never overheats and, well, it has been working nonstop for the past TEN years! (Right, so, maybe I shouldn’t be so furious at it. It’s time to put it to rest.)

But, even thought this specific Toshiba model has proved to be efficient and durable, I don’t feel like getting another Toshiba. I feel that there are probably far better, more versatile options out there.

What I’m looking for in a laptop is one that A. can endure high workload (such as having 20 windows/browser tabs open and running a photo editing/video editing app while playing music/video in the background, for 8-10 hours straight) without overheating and without running slow, and B. has a practical keyboard, one that I would feel comfortable typing on with speed. That is all.

I have been searching online but I still can’t make a decision. I thought I made my mind on buying the 2018 MacBook Pro 13″ then I read some reviews about how bad the keyboard is. Also, some say it overheats easily.

I was going for the MacBook option for the safer side of security given its OS and everything it has built-in to protect you online as much as possible; and also the fact that I already am an Apple user, so I’m kind of used to the brand. However, I also don’t want to pay that huge sum of money and find myself still forced to type on my tablet or my old laptop because the keyboard is a pain in the neck.

The other laptop that I had my eyes set on was the 2018 Dell XPS 13″. It looks better than the MacBook Pro in my opinion, and it has everything Mac has, except for the Mac OS, of course. But it seems that it is not available in the Egyptian market yet. So, this one has been ruled out as well.

If you are a tech geek or just a heavy laptop user and know of a good model that would fit the requirements be so kind as to let me know here or in the comments.

Hopefully I will manage to make a decision and get one within the next few days so that I can get back on track with work and research.

Till then, happy days (and healthy laptops)!


I Quit My Day Job, Now What?

As I approached the last few days of October, which were the last days left for my 30-day notice, I was thinking of what I will do next. To be honest, I was getting a little bit nervous about the idea of not having a salary by the end of the next month. And although I only pay for my own expenses and no one is depending on me financially, I still felt like this was a somewhat risky step, but as is the case with taking risks, you measure the possible losses and the possible gains, and, in this situation, the possible gains to me weighed a lot more.

Now I clearly knew what I did not want to do. But what is it that I do want to do? If there were no obstacles and no conditions and I could wake up tomorrow and do anything I want, what would that be?

Well, I wanted to write and design and read books and be free of the day-job monster! (Did you hear that? that’s the sound of freedom!)

And, beside that, I also want to find a way to use my brain. Yes, that may sound weird, but it was something I realized during my existential crisis discussed here, that nothing I do ever requires me to use my brain. The type of jobs I have been doing since I graduated college were all routine jobs, ones you can do on autopilot. And I had this feeling that this brain that studied physics (which I hated every step of the way), complex mathematical equations, and electronics and coding, deserves a little better treatment; it at least deserves a try.

So what I wished for was to not have to go to work to have an income, to feel some sort of financial security. I wanted to do work that I love and enjoy doing, which may not necessarily pay me well at first, instead of doing work just because it pays me well.

And simultaneously while considering those things, I was spending my free time making designs for my Redbubble store and I noticed that I was actually making some sales. That brought the question to my attention: Can anyone actually live off that kind of business?

And after some online research, I can say the answer to that question is, yes. Some people do make enough sales every month that can become an actual source of income, but I also found that this is not the case for most other people. And for someone to reach that level of sales, a lot of other factors contribute to it. (You can read more about this in My Experience With 5 Print-On-Demand Platforms).

I sort of had an idea that there are ways to make money online because I worked with platforms like Appen and Lionbridge in the past and so I knew that this was possible; however, what I didn’t know, or more like never thought of, was the fact that you can make money from money. Or that you can make money while you are not necessarily working for it. The concept that you should make your money work for you and not the other way around.

I never thought about investing my money, for example. I thought this was something for those business people with suits and ties and lots of money inherited from their rich families or whatever. When I first read about that, I thought, I’m a middle-class citizen from a middle-class family who studied engineering and works in customer service, what do I know about finance or business management or even money? Absolutely nothing! At least, until then.

What I’ve learned as I started to read more on the topic is that you do not need to have a degree in finance or have a business background to know how to manage and make money. In fact, everyone can and should learn how to manage their finances to not only make ends meet, but to be able to go beyond that, to be able to have savings, to be able to have financial security in their life, especially if they have other family members depending on them.

I spent days and nights, searching and researching, reading articles, buying books, watching videos because I wanted to know if this is something that is actually achievable, that there are others who managed to do what is to me just some wishful thinking. 

And after some time I decided I will go for it. I believe it is not impossible and it is not wishful thinking anymore. I can see now that it can be done. Will I be able to do it? Well, this will be my little big experiment. It will take a lot of time and energy not just to work but to learn, but that’s what it takes, otherwise I would be wasting another year of my life and some humble amount of savings on something that I’m not even 100% aware of. 

There are bazillion articles and videos online telling you about another kabillion methods of how to make money. But the question here is not how to make money, it is how to make money in a way that brings more money, how to be smart about it. And if you don’t have enough knowledge and information, you will not be able to do that.

Another thing is how to do that without turning into a money-making machine, because that is definitely not why I started. So, how to actually enjoy the process?

Without passion, you don’t have energy.

Without energy, you have nothing.

Warren Buffett

In my opinion, one can do so by implementing all the skills they have (for me that would probably be, research, handling customers and… English? pretty unimpressive set of skills, but we’ll see how far that gets me.) along with all the activities you love and enjoy (for me that’s writing, reading, and design) and then find a way to use those things to make money.

The money you make from those little skills you enjoy and love is so much different from the typical salary you get at the end of the month doing some mundane job. I know how that feels because the few dollars I got from my design sales were the most precious money I have ever received. I am the happiest person on earth when someone buys something with my design on it. That kind of money just feels amazing. (Or maybe those are just my creative cells overreacting a bit.)

In the next blog post, I will discuss what I started with in terms of online and offline business and how I chose the kinds of business to start with and why I chose them.

Till then, happy days!