"Chair disease" is an increasingly common malady in the U.S. that is almost always caused by spending too much time parked on your rear end.
It's not really the chair's fault, though. The problem is that most of us sit wrong -- slouched forward with our earlobes in front of our shoulders -- and for hours without moving. The result? Avoidable chair-related ailments, including flabby butts, an increased risk of blood clots, and back pain, the leading cause of disability in Americans under age 45.
"Sitting all day is the worst thing in the world you can do for your back, " said Dr. Joel Press, the medical director of the Spine & Sports Institute at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
Sitting puts nearly twice the stress on the spine as standing; slouching while you sit increases the pressure even more.
That's because hunching forward pushes the back into a convex or C shape. Try it. Now pull your shoulders back and together and put your hand on your lower back. That natural concave curve is what you want; slouching fatigues and overstretches the ligaments, causing back pain.
6 strategies to beat back pain Change your position. It's the single best thing you can do, said Press. Stand up every 15 to 30 minutes and clasp your hands behind your back. Get a treadmill desk. Lisa Solomon operates her law practice from her New York home while walking on a treadmill at 2.2 miles per hour. She has lost 8 pounds. For more information: officewalkers.ning.com. Squat. It's more comfortable than sitting because most of the weight of the abdomen is supported on the thighs, said Dr. Richard Meller, author of "Evolution Rx" (Perigee, $24.95). Use a lumbar roll. About 6 inches in diameter, lumbar rolls help maintain the natural curve of the back. You can use them in a car or the office. Order one -- along with Angela Kneale's useful handbook "Desk Pilates" -- at optp.com. Practice Robin McKenzie's "slouch-overcorrect" exercise. If you have to sit for a long time, move from slouched position to upright 10 to 15 times, three times a day, said Gutierrez. (If you know yoga, it's similar to moving between a seated cat and cow pose.) For more info: mckenziemdt.org. Try the Alexander Technique. Studies have shown that the postural educational system is an effective treatment for back pain when used in conjunction with exercise. alexandertechnique.com