Can sitting too much Sunday cause ‘Super Bowl flu’?

Helena Oliviero, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – 2/3/2016

When the Super Bowl airs on Sunday, Feb. 7, millions of Americans will settle into their seats for hours watching the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos compete. There’s also the pregame coverage, the halftime show, the must-watch commercials.

All of this sitting is not good for you — especially your lower back. In fact, many people call in sick the day after the Super Bowl with what’s been coined the so-called “Super Bowl flu.”

Dr. Winifred Bragg, medical director of the Spine and Orthopedic Pain Center, with offices in Norfolk and Chesapeake, Va., said she’s seen an uptick of patients complaining about back pain after the Super Bowl year after year.

Dr. John Rhee, associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine, said sitting for long periods of time may cause discomfort, but for the vast majority of people, it likely won’t cause long-term problems.

Bragg, the author of a new book, “Knock Out Pain: Secrets to Maintain a Healthy Back” (First Class Publishing, $16.95), offers these tips for avoiding the back strain while watching the Super Bowl:

  • Watch the Super Bowl commercials while standing.
  • Put a lumbar roll — or rolled-up towel — behind your back as you watch the game.
  • If you have one, sit on a stability ball instead of the couch.
  • Keep snacks in another room. Get up to have one every 30 minutes or so. Choose healthy foods because obesity compounds back pain.

As a general rule, Bragg said people should always try to avoid sitting for more than two hours at a time. Ideas for moving more during the day include the following: take a brisk walk around the building, choose the stairs over the elevator, or simply get up out of the chair, stand up and stretch for a few minutes by your computer.

As far as Sunday is concerned, Rhee doesn’t think TV viewers should fret about binge-watching football.

“Don’t smoke. Try not to be obese. And other than that, try live a healthy lifestyle,” said the doctor. “And enjoy the Super Bowl and if you want to lounge on the couch for six hours, that’s fine.”


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If you are suffering from lower back pain or a back strain, please contact our back doctor at (757) 333-3360 or click here to make an appointment.  Dr. Winifred Bragg and her nonsurgical pain management center helps patients in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk and throughout Hampton Roads.  Let our back doctor help you to relieve your pain without surgery. Together We Strive to Knockout Pain®