In this day and age, most of us sit too much. Whether it be driving in a car, sitting behind a desk, on a computer or at a table to have a meal, seems we SIT, SIT, SIT…and the human body was not designed to sit all day!
Most of us sit 8, 9 or even 16 hours a day, and this can result in all kinds of problems including:
- Acute and chronic back pain
- Tight, restricted muscles
- Achy joints
- Ungraceful movement
- Poor exercise performance
- Restricted blood flow and circulation to the muscles
- High blood pressure
- Raised cholesterol
Oh My Aching Back!
Research shows that sitting for hours at a time increases stress on the back, and is a huge contributor to back pain.
“135-degree back-thigh sitting posture” is thought to be the best posture to use to avoid back problems—that is, leaning back in the chair 45 degrees. Researchers found that the 90-degree position contributed most to strain on the spine, neck included, while the 135-degree position was the most relaxed.
So what can you do other than try to be aware of and minimize how much sitting you do?
- Make a point to regularly stretch the muscles that are chronically shortened by excessive sitting (see below)
- Include some simple yet effective corrective and preventative exercises
Here are the muscle groups to be sure to stretch regularly if you sit a lot:
Arm and Shoulder Area
- Teres major
- Latissimus dorsi (sides of back)
- Pectoralis major (chest)
Thigh and Upper Leg/Hip Area
- Psoas (hip flexors)
- Tensor fasciae latae (outer hip/thigh)
- Gluteus medius (outer hip)
- Gluteus minimus (hip)
“A good rule of thumb is to not sit for more than an hour at a time.”
Even if you just stand up and breath every hour or so that will help. If you can move a little, maybe just walk around a bit to increase circulation and get the blood flowing that’s even better. Add in some nice deep breaths and perhaps a quick stretch or two from the above list and now you’re really in business!
The “Bottom” Line (haha!)
It is my belief that the more we understand and respect the needs of our bodies, the more we can then design our lives to honor and meet those needs, thereby working with our bodies rather than fighting against them and then wondering why “nothing’s working”. Doing so will prevent unnecessary suffering and make the journey a lot more enjoyable..and isn’t that what it’s about in the first place?!