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Why Sitting for Too Long is Dangerous (Wfh Series 1)

Pain Management, Posture, Work From Home


09 JUL 2021






1 How does sitting affect your body?

1.1 Overcoming long hours of sitting

1.2 Avoid this harmful sitting posture

1.2.1 Sitting cross-legged can be dangerous. 1. Spider Veins (aka Varicose veins or thromboembolism) in the legs 2. Impotency, infertility, and urinary malfunctions 3. Spine deformation, bone disease or muscle strain 4. Degenerative arthritis

1.3 Fix your posture before it’s too late.

1.3.1 The Importance of Consulting Your Practitioner


COVID-19 has given us the pleasure and convenience of working from home, but sometimes we might get a little too comfortable sitting too long when working. Long hours of sitting with a bad posture can actually be harmful to your health. Bad sitting posture can pose pain issues like neck swelling, lower back pain and body fatigue. If prolonged, sitting might even lead to health complications such as cervical spondylosis, gastrointestinal disease, cardiovascular disease, etc. all of which can be easily prevented!


How does sitting affect your body?



There is a TCM saying that sitting for too long will “harm yourself” (久坐伤肉) as it will result in the lack of ‘qi’ and blood.


When you’re stuck in a sitting position for a long time, the weight of the human body will be more concentrated on the lumbosacral (lower back) region of the spine. This imbalance of pressure distribution in the back can easily cause muscle strain and pain in the lower back. If untreated, this can even lead to loss of flexibility of the intervertebral disc tissue and hypostasis of the spine, also known as thickening of bone tissue.


Prolonged sitting can also slow down gastrointestinal movement, which involves the movement of ingested food throughout the body. It may reduce secretion of digestive juice, which leads to poorer digestion. You may also experience bloating, constipation or water retention more often.


Sitting for a long time tends to tighten the muscles of the shoulder, neck and waist, causing it to become stiff. This affects the blood supply of the vertebral artery to the head and causes dizziness. Therefore, it is difficult for people to maintain a long attention span.


The lack of exercise will also weaken one’s muscles, reducing its flexibility, leading to increased swelling of the lower limbs and fatigue. This will cause your muscles to stiffen up, which may cause you to experience pain and numbness and, in more serious cases – muscle atrophy (loss of muscle tissue).





Sitting comfortably at home while working could be tempting, and it is important to move and stretch whenever you can. Take time to stand up and move around every hour for about 5 to 10 minutes – you can also do simple activities like rotating your arms or a short body stretch!


This will not only help you to be healthier, but also effectively relieve work pressure.




Sitting cross-legged can be dangerous.


Whether it’s sitting with the knees overlapped or the swaying of an ankle over the other knee as you sit, this sitting posture is one that many people take for granted in their lives. Often adopted in an attempt to portray oneself as elegant or handsome while sitting, this bad sitting posture will cause your pelvis to skew over time and lead to the following diseases:


1. Spider Veins (aka Varicose veins or thromboembolism) in the legs



If you notice blue veins appearing on your legs, you have to be mindful of how you are sitting.
Keeping the legs crossed while sitting down for a long time will not only cause numbness, but the nerves and blood vessels on the bottom of the top leg are flattened by the other leg too. Over time, blood flow will be congested, and the blood vessels will dilate. This congestion increases the risk of spider veins (varicose veins) in the calf, lower body edema or thromboembolism, causing bruises on the calf, especially for elderly people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. In the long-term, this sitting posture will only worsen these conditions.


2. Impotency, infertility, and urinary malfunctions



When you sway your feet while sitting, your legs are often clamped too tightly, which increases the temperature of the inner thighs and around the genitals. For men who are sitting cross-legged, the temperature around the crotch tends to get excessively high, and it is less likely to dissipate heat, which affects the vitality and quality of the sperm. If sitting cross-legged becomes a long term habit, it may affect fertility.


It’s better not to cross your legs too firmly for more than 10 minutes if you really want to elevate your feet while sitting. If you notice sweat developing on your inner thighs, get up and walk for a few minutes in a well-ventilated area to swiftly dissipate the heat. If you’re sitting cross-legged on a bus and the bus comes to a sudden stop, the sudden jerk will cause harm to your bones, joints, and muscles.


Furthermore, the urethra and anus are controlled by the pelvic floor muscles. Sitting cross-legged compresses the pelvic floor muscles, causing them to become stiff, causing them to become strained and weary. The bladder and bowel functions will be affected, resulting in incontinence or urination issues.


3. Spine deformation, bone disease or muscle strain



Sitting cross-legged will cause either side’s hip joints to be higher than the other, causing the pelvic bones to be out of balance, and the body’s center of gravity to be tilted towards the lower foot, causing the pelvis and spine to be out of alignment. The upper lumbar and thoracic vertebrae will bend and rotate, changing the shape of the spine from a normal “S” to a “C” shape, resulting in inconsistencies in muscle lengths on the left and right sides, as well as a misalignment between the spine and the pelvis. As a result, joint mobility will be affected.


Sitting cross-legged for long periods of time compresses the spinal nerves, resulting in discomfort, numbness, pain, and weakness in the lower back. The lumbar spine (lower) will tilt to the right in an attempt to maintain balance, while the thoracic spine (middle) will bend to the left and the cervical spine (upper) will bend to the right. Scoliosis, intervertebral disc herniation, and sciatica will develop over time. The shoulders will be out of balance, resulting in neck pain, plantar fasciitis, and maybe imbalanced foot length and other problems.


4. Degenerative arthritis



When one foot supports the weight of the other for an extended period of time while sitting incorrectly, the abnormal amount of external force exerted on the knee joint causes degeneration and wear of the compressed supra-knee cavity, increasing the risk of degenerative arthritis.




If you’re having trouble breaking the habit of sitting incorrectly, simply remind yourself that if you notice your feet are elevated, switch your sitting posture from one side to the other. It’s not a good idea to stay on one side for more than 10 minutes. Changing your sitting position regularly will also help. Don’t cross your legs too tightly when sitting cross-legged. This will reduce the likelihood of pelvic tilts, feet length imbalance, lower back muscle pain, and spine damage that everyone suffers from. If the natural curvature of the lumbar spine is maintained, the risk of low back discomfort and intervertebral disc herniation is also reduced.


Sin Kang TCM clinic offers professional , specialised treatments including NO-PAIN Acupuncture™ and Tui Na Massage to alleviate those symptoms.


The Importance of Consulting Your Practitioner


There are certain cautions that should be observed when going for treatment – even TCM. Acupuncture, for example, is not recommended for pregnant patients with certain conditions, as it can stimulate uterine contractions.


If you are experiencing sitting issues of any kind and think our posture tips may be right for you, give us a call or book an appointment with us today.


(Co-authored by Physician Guo Yuan)

About the author


Physician 中医师

Goldhill Shopping Centre

Wang Chien Min 王医师

Physician 中医师

Wang Chien Min 王建民

TCM Registration No. T2103723J

English: Conversational

Chinese: Fluent

Educational Background: Advanced Diploma in TCM, Singapore College of TCM

教育背景: 新加坡中医学院

  • Area of Interest: Traumatology, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Gynaecology
  • Physician Wang, with over a decade of traditional Chinese medicine training in Taiwan and experience in Malaysia, is a third-generation disciple of Dong and also trained under renowned expert Dr. Lin Liangzhong in acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, and structural therapy. Dr. Wang's integrated approach combines acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and structural therapy, delivering impressive results often with noticeable improvements after just a few treatments.

  • 擅长:伤科, 内科, 儿科, 妇科
  • 王医师在台湾修读中医10余年,并曾受邀至马来西亚看诊。师承台湾名医邱雅昌医师学习董氏奇穴,为董氏第三代嫡传弟子,亦师承响誉海内外的结构治疗大师林两传中医师,于针灸、中药及结构治疗的相互配合下,在内科、妇科及儿科的治疗上常能得到立竿见影之效,而针灸美容上更是迭有奇效,许多面部黯沉、鼻粱歪斜、法令纹、眼袋下垂患者,配合服用中药调理,常在仅仅数次治疗下,便能看到明显效果。