People are becoming very aware that our modern, sitting based lifestyles are damaging us at an alarming rate. The statistics are damning.
More than 4 hours of sitting = significantly more risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and even cancer
(Reference: Kansas State University researcher, Richard Rosenkranz, reviewed data from over 60 000 Australian men as part of the 45 and Up Study, the largest long-term study of aging in the Southern Hemispere, involving nearly 300 000 people. Rosenkranz’s research focused on men but he suggests that it likely applies across genders. The research showed consistently that regardless of other factors such as body size, the crucial link was the length of time spent sitting.)
The average American sits for approximately 13 hours daily
(Reference: Ergotron survey 2013 Ergotron is a manufacturer of various products that can help office workers stand more and they commissioned this survey with a respondent sample of 3000 people. According to their data, the average office worker sits for 7.5 hours at work, another 1-2 hours while watching TV, on screen gaming another 1-2 hours, sitting for 1-2 hours for things such as reading, and various other social screen activity for 1-2 hours. While the actual number of hours may vary a little when compared to other current research on sitting, this survey result is in the middle and is representative of what others report.)
The statistics above relate to people’s general health and are very worrying. However, our focus always leads back to posture and we have some solutions.
Sitting Damaged Posture – Fight Back!
“Your sitting damaged posture is a combination of how you sit and how long you sit.”
The are literally dozens of possible postural side effects of prolonged sitting and it is impossible to guess what all of them might be for you, but we can offer solutions to some of the most common. Our experience shows that the majority of people with damage from prolonged sitting have several if not most of the following list of symptoms:
Tight Hip Flexors
What: In general terms, your hip flexors are muscles that flex your leg towards your hip.
Solution: Stretching – you need to regularly stretch your hip flexors. Have a look at Mike Reinhold’s video below for an expert stretch that works.
What: The term “hamstring” refers to the muscles and tendon that extends your leg. They run down the back of your upper leg.
Solution: Stretching. Just like the hip flexors, your hamstrings will shorten and tighten through prolonged sitting.
What: Your “glutes” (bottom, backside) are large, strong muscles that are designed to help you stand up from a bent position. They are also key in the role of stabilising your back while standing.
Solution: For those who sit a lot, it is very common for their glutes to be weak as sitting holds them in an extended position. The simplest strengthening exercise is walking up stairs. If you want more intensity, try two stairs at a time.
Weak Lower Back Muscles
What: Your lower back muscles are designed to help stabilise your core, but when you sit for extended time, they become stretched and weak.
Solution: Purchase a kettlebell from Amazon, Walmart or a sports store and learn to swing it! This exercise will also strengthen your entire back as well as your glutes and hamstrings. Don’t forget to stretch afterwards.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
What: APT is when the pelvis tilts forward (anterior) in relation to its natural “neutral” position. This tilt throws the whole back out of alignment. It is part of a sitting damaged posture caused by the issues described above.
Solution: The great news is that the same solutions that we recommend for each of the issues above will help correct anterior pelvic tilt. Below is a photo that shows the characteristic curve associated with this condition.
Looking ahead . . .
So there you have it – many, many people have sitting damaged posture – but – there are solutions that can be done fairly easily at home. However, if your lifestyle/work requires more than 4 hours sitting a day, you will have to continue to apply the solutions as you will be fighting the problems continually.
A better long term solution would be to actively reduce the amount of sitting you do by consciously redesigning your daily habits. It is also definitely worth considering a wearable posture sensor to help you hold a healthy posture as you overcome old habits.