How many people do you know that follow this schedule for any given day?
· Wake up and sit on the toilet
· Sit and eat breakfast
· Sit in the car on the way to work
· Sit in a cubicle at work
· Sit in the car on the way home
· Sit and eat dinner
· Sit on the couch and watch tv
· Go to bed
My guess is we all know a few. While this is an extreme example, it’s not that uncommon. Even though it’s encouraged in pop culture to stay active and lead a healthy lifestyle, human beings are being held hostage by their screens and chairs daily. The photo below sums up where we are headed as a human race, and it isn’t pretty.
Frequent sitting presents a laundry list of issues in the musculoskeletal system. Sitting with poor posture creates even more. Of all the negative effects of sitting, these suck the most:
· Inactive and weak glutes: Having weak glutes is basically the death of your active life. You know that weird numb sensation you feel in your butt after you stand up from a lengthy period of sitting, that’s no good for dat booty. Your glutes are your engine for everything that requires you to move your body through space, if you can’t do that, I hope you like Minecraft because that’s the extent of your athletic future.
· Tight hip flexors: When these are locked up, good luck standing up straight using proper posture. Frequent periods of sitting will leave the hip flexors weak from being inactive and shortened which eventually is going to piss off your lower back while seated or standing.
· Rounded shoulders: This can be avoided by sitting up totally straight with shoulders back while you sit but who does that? See the upper back of the dude on the computer in the picture above? Do you want to walk around with a little more of hunchback every day? I doubt it.
5 Movements to minimize damage
I get it, you are stuck in a cubicle and have no choice but to sit down, bang on the phone, and send emails for 8 hours a day. However, you do have the choice to do something about it. Here are 5 movements that can be done at home (or office) with minimal equipment that you need to be doing as often as possible to negate some of the disastrous effects all day sitting can create!
1) Banded Glute Bridge/Hip Thrust: The science is in and EMG studies show that barbell hip thrusts activate the glutes far more than even the holy grail of lower body exercises: the squat. The good thing is, you don’t need a barbell to do these to activate the glutes as a hard squeeze at the top of the movement should do the trick. Use a versa loop (amazon link located at bottom of article) directly above the knees to get the Glute Medius involved as well and crank your bridge up another notch. Do 3 sets of 15 reps with a 2 seconds squeeze at the top. Do them right now and then again next time you are sitting scrolling through the interwebz.
2) Banded Pull Apart: Wondering why you got that big hunch coming in at your upper back? It’s possible that you have weak rhomboids, traps, and rear delts because they are inactive in the stretched position while you are leaning over looking at screens and typing all day. Either that or you focused on bench press too much in your lifting career, maybe both. Contract and strengthen these muscles to offset all that rounding with this movement. Grab a small thin mini band (amazon link located at bottom of article), lock your elbows and pull the band until it touches your chest. Make sure you jam the shoulder blades together on every single rep. Do 3 sets x 20 reps multiple times per day and in between any sets of bench or push-ups you may be doing.
3) Core Stability Movement: Along with your glutes, the abs are in a crappy position during sitting. They are inactive and weakened from either poor posture or leaning on a back support in a chair. When you decide it’s time to get off your ass and stand up, they won’t fire unless they are trained to do so, leaving your lower back extensors to try and keep you upright by themselves. Perform a core stability movement (think planks, body saw, ab wheel rollouts, etc.) to keep them strong and activated through long stretches in the office.
4) Couch Stretch: I stole this from super therapist Dr. Kelly Starrett. This hurts like a bitch but it’s remarkably effective at unlocking the tight hip flexors. If it doesn’t hurt then you are doing something wrong. Make sure that when you get yourself into position that you are squeezing the same glute of the leg that is against the “couch”, this will create a ton of tension in the quads and hip flexors. The more you feel your quads and hip flexors stretch the more effective the movement. Start with a minute on each leg and progress to 2 minutes as you tolerate. Do this as frequently as you can. The more you sit, the more frequent you need to do this!
5) Turkish Get-Up: While this exercise takes some time to master, the benefits are worth the effort. The ability to rotate and extend your torso and increases in shoulder and lower body mobility are just a couple of benefits from the get up. For all day sitters, the name implies its greatest benefit, getting off your ass!
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