Are you sitting comfortably? Great, we’ll let’s get started. Most of you will be reading this either relaxing on the sofa, tucked into your work station or on your daily public transport commute. Lets dive a little further into why this could be causing you some unsuspecting problems… (or maybe you already know that it is).
I’m sure you’ve all picked up on something in the media recently (here’s one from CBS in the USA) suggesting how sitting down for long periods of time increases your chances of disease and muscular pain? Fear not, there are some easy things you can do to help prevent these issues.
To begin, let’s rewind back to your ancestors 50,000 years ago who would run, walk and jump around all day long keeping their musculoskeletal systems active and switched on. They would climb trees to hunt food and sprint after prey day after day using their body through full range of movements. Our bodies were designed for this sole reason! Compare this against the 21st century human who sits, inactive for long periods of the day whether it be at work, in the car or on the sofa, or in some cases all 3!
Sitting is an activity which does not involve much energy expenditure (obviously). Thus, your body increase glucose levels in the blood (not good) and decrease your good cholesterols. This occurs because your body believes it is in a storage phase due to the low-level activity which ultimately makes you resistant to insulin (again obviously not good). There are numerous studies being concluded with these findings and more empirical evidence is being produced too.
As soon as you sit down…
1. Your calorie burning reduces to 1 per minute
2. Your enzymes which break down fat decrease by 90%
3. Electrical stimulation in your legs (essential for muscular contraction) switches off.
At this point most of you are probably having a bit of a panic and thinking, “I better shake off me dusty nikes and go for a run”, only to return 10 minutes later with potentially what feels like a torn calf or sciatica or a groin pull and so on….. and most importantly, another reason to discontinue exercise.
The reason why you feel this pain is due to muscular imbalances derived from a poor postural foundation due to long periods of sitting. Once you decide to chuck the skins on and jog around the tan, your body is not balanced well enough to deal with the stresses which are placed on the muscular system. You are quite literally running before you can walk.
Lets do a test – Jump up for a moment and stand up straight. Take your hand and feel one of your hip flexors (the muscles at the front which cross the hip joint). Don’t be shy to get stuck in a little bit – I’m sure you feel that ropey and tight muscular band? The tight muscle you are feeling is pulling your hips forward and creating this muscular imbalance.
This can be applied to many areas of your body. For example, if you press into where your pectorals (the big muscle on your chest) insert in the front of the shoulder you’ll also feel plenty of tension.
With your hips constantly flexed and your arms always outstretched forward in a seated position, your brain begins to recognises this as your ‘normal’ position. As your brain is a clever piece of equipment it remembers what you do day after day. So, to help you be really really good at sitting down, it tries to put your body in a nice seated posture producing very tight, overactive hip flexors and shoulder internal rotators.
What this means for your body when you try and exert yourself, is some muscles are working too hard and others are not working enough.
All you need to do is restore balance and alter the load correctly through the musculoskeletal system! This simply results in pain-free exercise.
Get those hips and arms moving! At MMT, office workers with chronic pain due to long periods of sitting are one of our biggest client demographics. With a few pro-active lifestyle changes you can prevent such problems:
Don’t email Claire downstairs about lunch. Get up from your seat, use the stairs and start activating your muscles more regularly. Get a few jumping jacks on the go or march on the spot. Activation of joints and muscles prevent them from becoming dominant, stiff and glued together.
2) Get off the sofa!
Those who sit for more than 3 hours a day watching TV are 64% more likely to die from heart disease!! You sit down enough at work, don’t add to the problem away from the office.
3) Dynamic Stretching
Put your body into positions it’s not been for a long time. How many of you could squat down and get your ass to the grass without falling over?
4) SCT Release
Come in and see one of us for a treatment to melt away and loosen up your dominant areas
5) Strength Training
Activation and switching on the weak areas will counter act your imbalances by taking the load off the dominant, stressed areas.
So, are you sitting comfortably?