I know that, like me, many of you spend your days sitting at a desk.
Sometimes you can look up at the clock to realise that you haven’t actually peeled your bottom off your chair for a good 4 hours! We all know that sitting for a prolonged period of time can be bad for our health for a variety of reasons. As some of you know I suffer with an achy back at times which is only made worse by sitting most of the day. “Fortunately” I am lucky enough to have a boss that really cares about the well being of her staff as well as her clients, so I get to sit at my desk with my very own stability ball
Now at first there was definitely a few near misses when I nearly fell flat on my bottom, but I soon learned to sit tall and engage my core muscles to avoid that ever happening! I would recommend everyone getting themselves a stability ball, for at home and at the office, I have noticed a difference in my posture and my core strength since working for PPT.
But there is a much wider variety of problems which can be caused by sitting too much…
- Heart Disease – Muscles burn less fat and blood flows more sluggishly during a long sit, allowing fatty acids to more easily clog the heart. Prolonged sitting has been linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, and the people with the most sedentary time are twice as likely to suffer
- Cancers – Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for colon, breast and endometrial cancers. The reason is unclear, but one theory is that excess insulin encourages cell growth. Another is that regular movement boosts natural antioxidants that kill cell damaging – and potentially cancer causing – free radicals.
- Muscle Degeneration – When you sit, and specifically slump, your abdominal muscles go unused. The combination of this and tight back muscles cause poor posture and can exaggerate the spines natural curve. This is also a problem for your Glutes (bottom), sitting requires your Glutes to do NOTHING! So sitting for prolonged periods causes our bums to get lazy and affect your stability.
- Poor Circulation in your legs – Sitting for long periods slows your blood circulation, which causes fluid to pool in your legs. This can cause problems ranging from swollen ankles to varicose veins and even deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
- Strained Neck and Back – Probably the most common health problem we suffer from sitting is bad backs. When typing at a computer or on the phone you are straining your neck, this can cause permanent imbalances in your cervical vertebrae. Your neck doesn’t strain alone, when doing this you are also putting strain onto your back and shoulders especially your trapezius muscle.
- Inflexible Spines – When you don’t move your spine becomes inflexible and susceptible to damage. This can cause damage to the disks and they can become squashed and uneven.
When you are sitting for prolonged periods it is important to follow some basic guidelines as much as possible to avoid any of the above and improve your posture and your health. So we have put together some simple exercises and stretches for you to do as often as possible. As well as ensuring that you get up and move around throughout the day.
- If you work long hours at a desk and have the option, use a chair that’s ergonomically designed for proper support and designed for your height and weight. If this is not an option, try using a small pillow for lumbar support.
- Align your back with the back of the office chair. This will help you avoid slouching or leaning forward, which you may find yourself doing after sitting too long at your desk.
- As with standing posture, keep your shoulders straight and squared, your head is upright, and your neck, back, and heels are all aligned.
- Keep both feet on the ground or footrest (if your legs don’t reach all the way to the ground).
- Adjust your chair and your position so that your arms are flexed, not straight out. Aim for roughly a 75- to 90-degree angle at the elbows. If they are too straight, you’re too far back, and if they are more than 90 degrees, you’re either sitting too close, or you’re slouching.
Sitting properly will help alleviate some back issues that are so common today but there are further things we can all do to improve and assist us to move better and be pain free.
- Think string. Always imagine that a string coming from the top of your head is pulling you gently up towards the ceiling. Visualization techniques like this one can guide your sense of proper position and height effectively.
- Take standing breaks. Even if you’re using perfect posture while sitting in the best chair in the world you need to stand up and stretch, walk around, do a little exercise, or just stand there for a few minutes. Your body was not designed to sit all day so keep moving
- Stretches. There are many stretches that can help if you have back ache or neck ache or just if your job requires you sit for long periods of time so as to avoid future pain.
Cow and Cat Stretch
Tilt or stretch your head in all four directions over your shoulders (forward, back, left, right), and gently massage your neck. Avoid rolling in a circle, as it may cause further strain.
On your hands and knees, curl your back upwards, like a cat, and then do the opposite. Think about being able to place a bowl in the hollow of your back.
Repeat the exercises a few times each day. Doing them in the morning helps your body stretch out the muscle lethargy of sleep. Done periodically throughout the day, it will help to raise your energy level without a heavy workout.
Cervical Retraction Exercise
Take a chair and sit straight, yet comfortably, on it with your feet touching the floor. Now relax for a while and then simply pull your chin straight in without nodding your head up or down. Repeat it few times for correcting your cervical posture.
Shoulder Blade Squeeze
For shoulder blade squeeze, you simply need to sit on a chair with your hands resting on your thighs. Now when you feel at ease, slowly move your shoulders backwards and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
For strengthening your lower trapezius muscles, you must perform a breastbone lift. Simply sit at ease and lift your breastbone few inches higher. Now gently compress your shoulder blades down and together.
Abdominal pull-in is the best way to tuck in your bulging belly. It is also one of the easiest exercises. Simply pull your tummy in while exhaling gradually. Repeat it as many as times you can on a count of five.
Hip Flexor stretch
Start by kneeling down on the floor on both knees with your body upright then bring one leg up in front of you and place your foot flat on the floor with your leg roughly at a right angle, then lean into this front leg flexing at the ankle. You should feel this stretch in the opposite hip. Then repeat on the other side. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds.
Potential Personal Training aren’t just here to help with weight loss, we are also experts in functional movement and think it is just as important to be pain-free and comfortable day to day.
We can help you recover from existing injury and pain and prevent future problems occurring, Contact Us NOW 01444 48412901444 484129 or Click Here To Register For Your FREE Consultation.