In the 21st century it is normal to spend a lot of your time sitting. But that does not make it ideal. And now when we add this pandemic to the situation it is next level in regards to amount of time spent sitting. Our commute to work has been reduced to walking from bed to the next room. And our ability to be out and about on the regular has been diminished. And so even if you are still getting out for your daily dose of exercise your overall time sitting has by no surprise increased. I know mine has increased astronomically!
I always found the above picture intriguing when it first came out with the ‘sitting is the new smoking’ campaign. I always think of sitting being bad from a musculoskeletal standpoint but it is interesting to think of the other health issues it can effect.
So here are some helpful tips to help you feel better as you SIT!… and hopefully inspire you to move a little more.
The best thing you can do is change positions. There is no one position that is optimal for multiple hours a day. So even if you have a fancy ergonomic chair being in that one position all day is still not ideal. Humans are meant to move and sitting for 8+ hrs a day is just not ideal for our bodies. One thing I advise my patients to do is drink lots of water, that way you either have to get up to fill your water or to go pee.
Even if you are locked in and really cannot get up do the brugger exercise. This is basically doing the opposite of all of the positions you are in at your desk. Look up at the ceiling, bring your shoulder blades together, externally rotate and extend your arms back (getting a nice stretch through the chest) and separate the legs. Hold this for 60s every 60 minutes at minimum. With an office of 1 there is no excuse to not do this due to looking ridiculous and when we do resume a normal office settings if any one is giving you a weird look just tell them to do it as well. I guarantee taking this one minute will increase your productivity!
A couple other good desk movements are: chin tucks + seated neck stretches.
Chin tucks– keep your chin paralelle to the ground tuck it back as if you are making a double chin hold for 3-5s and repeat 10x. This stretches your suboccipital muscles while strengthening our deep neck flexors the exact opposite of what you are doing at your desk.
Seated neck stretches– hold on to your chair with one hand to pull that shoulder down, take the other hand and pull your ear to the shoulder you should feel a nice stretch through the upper fibers of the traps. Hold for 5-10s and repeat 5-10x OR hold for 60s. You can add a slight modification to this one to target different muscles by moving the head as if you were smelling your arm pit, this one targets levator scapulae. Same hold as above.
Why does sitting in one position get uncomfortable?
There is something called ligament creep that happens when we are in sustained positions. It is microscopic but it is there and it is due to being static (as above we are meant to move). And that is the culprit of that uncomfortable ache you get. It is like the body is telling you to MOVE. So start listening! Doing the brugger exercise above allows our bodies to reset. But getting up and actually moving is the best thing we can do!
You have been sitting all day but now it is time to run. What should you do in order to go from desk to road?
Core activation– plank, side plank
Thoracic mobility– cat/camel, t/s rotation *see below
Pec stretch– doorway pec stretch *see below
Glute activation– hip hike and standing leg extension
Walking lunge– be sure to reach up with the arm opposite to the front leg and really get a good stretch through the front of the hip
Run drills– A march, ankling, quick march
*see my story highlights on Instagram for some examples or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JbQt2WqyFg&t=6s
Note how the order went from non specific to more run specific with the aim of getting your body ready to run.
Early morning runner? These are still a great way to wake the body up before heading out the door to run.
Here is some mobility to keep your body feeling good throughout and/or post a day of sitting:
–cat/camel– on all fours belly button to ground and then spine to ceiling
–t/s rot– on all fours put one hand behind ear and rotate up and then down to opposite arm
–pec stretch– in a doorway hands up and forearms on door frame, lean forward
–cobra– laying on your stomach and then lift your chest up and hold either on forearms or hands 60s
–hip flexor active stretch– lunge position tilt top of pelvis back, engage glute, as if you are pulling back knee and front heel together keep it active by coming in to the stretch for 1s and backing off 10x
BONUS points for getting up and doing these throughout the day and not just when your day is done. When do you have the opportunity to have your yoga mat beside your desk? Make use of it.
Get those hips moving because let’s be honest… hips don’t lie.