Sitting, although it may be the most comfortable thing to do after a long day at the office, or a hard session in the gym, it isn’t a good position for your body to be in.
When we sit we create right angles at the hip, knee joint, if you are typing your elbows and wrist will most likely be at right angles and your head may even be forced into a bad position. Slowly your posture gets worse and worse, your back may begin to arch out in the middle (thoracic section of the spine), it may start to bend out closer to the top (cervical section of the spine) and the lower section (lumbar section of the spine), which is where most people begin to have issues with. We tend to arch in to try compensate the postural deformities we are creating by sitting in awkward positions.
The Disappearing Booty
By creating a right angle at the ankle, knee joint we are causing our gastrocnemius muscle (being our calves) to switch off and our upper hamstrings to shorten but the lower portion of our hamstrings is switched off. Having one part of our muscles under tension while the other portion switches off can lead to a whole host of issues within the hamstrings, but you will more than likely feel this issues in your lower back before you even notice how tight your hamstrings are, however this issue arises due to your hamstrings making up for the inactivity of your glutes! So it is not specifically a hamstring issue.
How do I get that booty back?
Do 30-50 repetitions a day. The perfect opportunity is in your warm up at the gym. So get that booty back people!
Tight As Hell
Having a right angle at the hip causes your hip flexors to shorten, which when you begin to stand makes it harder to lengthen your legs, having a knock on affect to your gastrocnemius as it cannot lengthen. Also having another affect on your trunk as its bent forward so you will compensate by hyper extending the spine to “straighten out”. When seated, due to our hips being on this angle our glutes are not active, this is because they do not need to be due to the chair supporting us instead of our muscles. Glute activation is imperative for runners, athletes, and for yourself when you get older, just to help with your ADL (active daily lifestyle). The job of the glutes is to keep your pelvis locked in to the correct position, along with your abs (specifically your transverse abdominus). Pelvis issues what arise from glute in-activity and bad posture are an anterior tilt, meaning your pelvis has literally twisted forward. This is often distinguished with a huge curve in the lumbar spine, also known as lordosis.
So get stretching those hips out.
A simple hip flexor stretch will do the job. Drop to one knee, take a deep breath and make yourself as tall as you can whilst squeezing the glute of the leg that is on the floor as hard as possible. Stay there for 45 seconds and do this 2-3 times per day.
Prolonged sitting causes a posterior pelvic tilt, the job of your transverse abdominus is to hold the pelvis in the correct position, it originated from the iliac crest (which is located on the pelvis) and one of its insertions is the xiphoid process (located at the bottom of the sternum). Posterior pelvic tilt is happening due to your abs not being braced throughout sitting, as well as your glutes not being activated, which is physically pulling your pelvis forward creating these muscles imbalances.
Now I am not saying you have to sit at work squeezing your abdominals and glutes until you pass out! There are simple breathing techniques which can help you understand a perfectly braced position, regular exercise that included GOOD abdominal work, what I mean by that is every angle of your “abs” are attacked not just go do 30 crunches and your done…
These issues at the hip have a knock on effect to your spine, the imbalanced core and posterior chain cause a lordotic spine (one where its curved inward meaning your belly protrudes outwards) a kyphotic mid section (great big outwards curve in the middle of the back). You will notice when you get up from sitting for a long period of time and you have a tight back so you stretch right out, it’s because you’re slowly forcing your body into a position it’s not comfortable with. Sometimes you notice it while you’re sitting doing work, so you push your chest out and sit there with a huge curve in your lower back, this just makes things worse, as you’ve had your spine compressing your inter-vertebral discs at the front, now you’re pushing it back so your vertebra compress at the back end of the disks. Ideally your vertebra should sit evenly on their discs.
How do I solve this?
By learning a technique known as bracing. This involves a slight activation in the glutes and core to pull our pelvis back in to the correct position which needs teaching by your coach or if you see me in house I’d be able to explain in a more visual way.
I need a massage my shoulders are in bits!
Yes, most of us are thinking this right now. The shoulders which will be slouched forward as they are relaxed, which can move on to cause great impingement and shoulder aches, not to mention the effect it has on the upper section of your spine, as its now bending forward above and below the joint. Take a look at someone sat on their laptop or computer, even sat there texting, nine times out of ten you are going to see their shoulders slouched forward and their back hunched over to compensate for this position.
So what’s the magic answer?
Fixing that ache is such an easy task. Make sure you’re adding in some pectoral stretches twice a day, throw them in at work. When you’re training do double the amount of back work to pressing, all back work is good back work.
Thanks for reading!