Pandemic couch potatoes can suffer injury

Pandemic can suffer injury

The pandemic has exacerbated some of our bad habits.

Since the pandemic began, many people have started working from their beds, binge-watching Netflix, and not going to the gym. This has led to more sedentary lifestyles. Since March of 2020, 74 per cent of people have found themselves sitting for longer periods of time compared to pre-pandemic. Americans now spend an additional four hours a day sitting down. (Source: The same is no doubt true of Canadians.

Sitting for too long causes possible weight gain, but it also has numerous other health ramifications. Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo, NYC area Orthopedic and Spinal Surgeon to discusses the effects of too much sitting. 

He says, “The pandemic has had a detrimental effect on many of our self-care regimens while also confining us to working from home and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. All of this, coupled with the high levels of stress compounds back pain that is long-lasting and possibly more acute.”

1. Back and hips.

The commute to work no longer exists for some, and the number of steps we take a day has vastly decreased. Sitting for prolonged periods can cause extreme pressure on the back, muscles, and hips. Extreme pressure on the spine causes nerve damage, strained muscles, and weakness in the lower back, which leads to back pain. Poor posture, as a result of sitting too much, also puts more pressure on your hips than necessary, resulting in stiffness of the hip. Stiffness of the hip can cause pain, swelling, and tenderness in the hips.

2. Depression and anxiety.

Lying or sitting too long can not only take a physical toll but increases your risk for mental health issues. Back, shoulder, and hip pain can lead to psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Dealing with chronic pain can cause a lack of sleep and prevent you from being physically active. This can affect your mental well-being and wreak havoc on your emotions. 

3. Shoulders and neck.

Our bedrooms have now become our new office. This has led to slouching in front of our non-ergonomic desk setups. Slouching and hunching in front of our work from home setups can lead to neck pain. Overworking the muscles in your neck makes your muscles more vulnerable to painful spasms and leads to stiffness in the shoulders. 

4. Heart.

If you are inactive for long periods, you raise your risk of heart disease. When you stand or walk, you lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, thus lowering your risk for heart disease. Heart disease can cause fainting, dizziness, chest pain and is the leading cause of death for men and women. 

 5. Dementia.

Physical inactivity decreases blood flow to the brain. When we move around throughout the day, we increase the amount of blood flow to the brain. Exercise can also improve memory and prevent cognitive decline. 

 6. Clots in your legs.

If you sit for too long, you put yourself at an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (forming clots in your leg). DVT may cause tenderness and/or swelling in the leg. It can be detrimental if the blood clot breaks free and enters your lungs. 

The lesson from all this? Get moving. Spring is here. Meet a friend and go for a walk. You are very safe outdoors. Not only will this get your blood flowing, but you will benefit from the fresh air and sunshine which will replenish your vitamin D, relieving depression.

Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, FAAOS, leads The Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care, with offices in the greater New York City area, as a spinal and orthopedic surgeon. Board-certified and fellowship-trained, Dr. Okubadejo specializes in the treatment of degenerative spinal disease, spinal deformity, and cervical, lumbar, and thoracic conditions.