One More Thing to Worry About: DVT from Sitting Too Long


As if carpal tunnel syndrome, vision woes, and back pain weren’t enough to have one our minds, now web workers are supposed to get the jitters about deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – those deadly blood clots that can form in your legs, travel to your brain, and end your life prematurely. A widely-reported study hit the wires yesterday with headlines ranging from “Office Workers More Clot Prone” to “Deadly Threat in the Office” depending on the inclination of the particular writer.

In any case, the news comes from the work of Professor Richard Beasley of the Medical Research Institute in Wellington, New Zealand, who’s been studying this issue since 2003. It turns out that some people who sit still for long periods of time develop DVT, which you might know as “economy class syndrome” because it’s also been associated with long flights in cramped airplane seats. In his most recent study, it turns out that 34% of the 62 patients with DVT had been seated at work for long periods of time, as opposed to only 1.4% who had been on long plane flights.

Something to View With Alarm? Perhaps. But statistics are slippery things. Remember, that doesn’t mean that 34% of all office workers will get DVT. And since many more people work in offices than take long plane flights, it doesn’t even mean that office work is a higher risk factor for DVT than flying. The best advice? Same as ever: get up and walk around every once in a while. If you’re living the web worker lifestyle, those trips to the counter to order another latte are better for you than you knew.


Star Journal Access

Poor sitting posture makes the back more vulnerable. It weakens the back muscles and causes discomfort, stress and pain. Fatigue also contributes to stress and back pain. When the spine is under stress from tight shortened muscles in the back or buttocks, the stress and strain can throw the spine out of alignment and cause stress and pain.
Very common things can cause stress on the back:
• Improper sitting posture
• Sitting in traffic for long periods of time
• Sitting at the computer at home or at work for long periods of time
Medical professionals agree that the spine is not actually straight. A healthy spine curves inward at the neck, outward at the chest, and inward at the lower back. The curves actually balance each other to ensure that the pull of gravity is evenly distributed. If the curves of the spine are increased or decreased the muscles then adds stress to the ligaments, and the joints, causing these areas to work harder to support the weight of the head and body. It then becomes critical to relieve stress when sitting for prolonged periods.
Even when maintaining good posture, sitting for prolonged periods of times can tire the back muscles. This is one of the main causes of stress to non-injury back pain. Certainly, taking frequent breaks from sitting with short walks every half hour to hour relieves stress. The human body is not designed to stay in one position for prolonged periods of time. The human body was designed to be active, either naturally or with some form of assistance, as in a mechanical stimulus to massage the back.
The discs in the back are under more pressure when sitting. Having a cushion helps to massage and vibrate the back and thigh. It also aids the muscles in reducing stress with massaging motions or vibrating activity to take some pressure off the discs.
The Pelvis
When sitting, the pelvis should always be in a neutral position. Certain chairs cause the pelvis to tilt backward, decreasing the curve of the lower back (flattened back), which places extra stress on the lower back and causes back pain. When people try to sit up straight, they actually end up tilting their pelvis forward and arching their back. This increase in the curve of the lower back also adds strain to the lower back and causes back pain. People who don’t have access to a chair with a good back support, should place a small pillow in the small of the back area to correct the curve and at best, be sure to include a cushion mechanism that provides some form of vibrating motion or massage action to help the back and thigh to relax more.
The Feet
A person’s feet should be supported. If the seat is too high for the feet to reach the floor, use a platform to rest your feet on. The knees should be level with or slightly higher than the hips.
The Neck
Besides lower back pain, neck pain is common when good posture is not maintained while sitting. Make sure your computer monitor isn’t too high of low. You shouldn’t have to tilt your head up or lean forward to see the screen. We often extend our neck to look at a computer screen, sometimes because it is too far away, sometimes out of habit. Looking upward or looking downward or sideways (which is common practice when viewing a document upon a desk) puts excessive strain on the neck and upper back and causes neck and back pain.
The Arms
The arms should hang at your sides. If your computer keyboard is too high or too far away the arms have to be kept raised or extended, resulting in tense shoulder and upper back muscles and back pain.
The Eye
The top of the computer screen should be just below eye level. When reading, place the material on an angle; don’t place the reading material flat on a desk or your lap. Leaning your head over for prolonged periods of time is brutal on your neck muscles.
Many people spend much of their workday and home life sitting at computers, and proper posture is necessary and vital for preventing back pain and stress. Holding any position for too long can tire out the back and thigh muscles, causing strain and stress to neck, thigh and back areas. Changing sitting positions often prevents stress on the back and using a cushion helps to relax your back and thighs.


Anti-Gravity support socks – the answer to increased DVT risk with IT workers.

Mike Han

I’ve recently switched from an office chair to one of those inflatable exercise balls (yes, like the one that Dwight used on The Office).
Since it’s impossible to look like a reasonable human being while slightly bouncing around on an inflatable ball, I’d never use it in a professional environment (I work at home too); but so far it feels a lot better than a standard office chair and even relieves stress (bouncing IS fun, after all).
There also seems to be some evidence to point to these exercise balls reducing the likelihood of DVT. Maybe. Maybe not. But, I recommend trying them out (just don’t let anyone you’d like to impress or date see you on it…)

Nicola Larosa

Maintaining a decent level of body activity is very important. I have another suggestion: do as ancient Romans used to, don’t sit, lie down.

That’s what I do most of the time (I work at home), in a wooden, garden chair that I confiscated and put in the studio. It’s worked wonders for my back ache.

The laptop stays on the lap, with a hard-top cushion for comfort, and to interpose some distance between it and the lap itself.

Now that I think of it, I’ll better put a lead screen in between, to stop electromagnetic radiation.

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