We all know that being active is good for the body, but unfortunately modern day live dictates that we need to sit for long periods of the day. Desk jobs, commuting by car/train, watching TV, all of the aforementioned are usually done in the seated position and for a majority of the day. But why is this so bad for us and what can we do about it?
There are many studies claiming to link sitting to much to a range of disease and health issues such as diabetes, cancer, increased anxiety etc, while these may or may not be true we want to focus purely on the muscular performance side of things.
The seated position puts a large amount of stress through the pelvis and lower back, the hips remain in a flexed position and most of the time slightly externally rotated as well. Try as me might often long periods at a desk or seated mean our posture begins to worsen, the head begins to encroach forward and often down. The neck and upper back muscles then have to work extremely hard to hold the head in this position, abdominal muscles become short and weak, hip flexors and hamstrings the same, whilst our lumbar, thoracic and cervical spinal muscles become lengthen and fatigued. Our glutes often switch off when we sit, with glute Medius muscles becoming very tight and glute Maximus muscles becoming very weak and lazy.
Long periods of time of inactivity also cause the body to slow down, blood flow drops meaning less blood is getting back to the heart and being recycled. Heart rate drops and blood in the legs, particularly lower legs, can become stagnate leading to varicose veins, or worse Deep Vein Thrombosis. inactivity also leads to less oxygen flowing around the body, less oxygen getting into the brain meaning productivity, concentration levels and creativity also suffer.
However it isn't all doom and gloom, we understand that a majority of jobs do mean we are desk bound for long periods of time but this is where we can help. Here are our top 5 tips to avoid sitting being an issue for you.
The body is designed to move, muscles, tendons and ligaments primary job in the body is to produce movement of the skeleton, so let them. This might be moving from a seated desk to a standing desk, getting a coffee from the kitchen or visiting the bathroom.
2. Get some fresh air.
Ensure you are able to get outside everyday, go for a walk/run at lunch, even if this is only 5 minutes long. Supplying the body with fresh air that isn't coming from air conditioning units will help reset the mind and body, oxygenate the brain and blood and get the blood moving again.
3. Drink plenty of water.
It's a well known fact that drinking water is good for the body. the human body can be up to 60% water with the heart and brain as much as 73% water. Ensure you always have a bottle of water on your desk and drink regularly from it. Try to stick to just water as well, relying on caffeine to get you through the day has no long term benefits!! Staying well hydrated will also meaning toileting on a healthy basis which in turn gets you moving.
4.Invest in a kneeling or standing desk.
Having the option of a kneeling or standing desk means you can change the position your body is in throughout the day. Kneeling desks, take the pressure away from your hips and lower back. Hips tend to be in less flexion which enables the bac to maintain it's natural curvature and take pressure away from the Vertebral discs. Similarly standing instead of sitting relieves the hips and keeps the spine in it's preferred position. The ideal situation would be to have access to all three so you can keep moving throughout the day.
Stretching seems to be everyone worst enemy so don't think of it as stretching, more reversing the affects of sitting all day. The sitting position consists of hip flexion, external hip rotation, protracted shoulders, knee flexion and often pelvic tilt. Here are our favourite movements and exercises to overcome sitting for too long.
If you struggling with aches and pains from sitting too long, or you feel it is impacting your health and exercise get in touch to find out how we can help.