There’s no arguing that we, as humans, are more sedentary than ever. We sit in front of the computer, the tv, the tablet, in the car, on the subway, at work, at school… and many tasks that were previously hard work have been automated for us.
There are the obvious issues, such as increases in body fat and loss of muscle.
But did you know that sitting for more than 6 hours a day has been shown to cause a 1% loss of bone mass in women, per year? This can absolutely wreck havoc on their bodies as they grow older, and seriously affect their quality of life.
In men AND women, a long term 6+ hour sitting habit can cause up to a 64% increase in risk of heart disease, and breast/prostate cancer risk is upped by 30%!
There is no way to completely counteract the sitting, but there are ways to take a big bite out of the effects, and make the most of what you still have.
When sitting for a prolonged period of time, your hip musculature is in a constantly shortened state. This causes tightness, which in turn, causes poor neuromuscular efficiency, which affects the ability of your joints to move, and alters your movement patterns.
The problem with this is that even though your body has found a way to adapt, the adaptation is inefficient, and adds additional stress to joints and muscles – including muscles that previously were doing just fine. It causes a domino effect of joint and muscle bad behaviour all over your body.
There are little things you can do, such as taking standing/stretching breaks every 15-20 minutes, or even fidgeting as much as possible.
I’m going to focus on the types of stretches and exercises that can help your body correct and prevent some of the muscle and joint damage.
These should be done as much as possible. No particular order. Just pick the stretches and exercises that you like, and try to fit a few of them in each day. During your mini-breaks is good, but definitely do a few after a long day of sitting. Incorporating them into your regular workouts is also a plus.
Foam rolling(Self Myofascial Release) is an easy, and very efficient, way to loosen up the hip musculature. You want to focus on the hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, and glutes. There are tons of very helpful, detailed videos showing how to do this on youtube. Here are a few that I found.
– IT Band
Another way to help with your sitting issues is by stretching. Stretching and Strengthening Exercises can help loosen up and strengthen the musculature over time.
– Deep Glute Stretch (I love this one. P90X made use of it quite often, and it was one of my favourites to do. Breathe through it. The breathing helps intensify the stretch)
– Hip Flexor Stretches with band:
Pick any of the above, and implement them at any convenient time for you. Over time, your range of motion will increase, chronic pain will lessen, and you will relieve tension and stress on the joints.
As you can see, there are many exercises and stretches that can help you feel better, and your body to move more efficiently. They don’t take a lot of time, and the tremendous relief they provide will be well worth any time you put into them.