Sitting Pretty for Better Health

If you have been paying attention to the news and various other media its clear that sitting for prolonged periods is detrimental to health, some claim sitting is the new smoking and whilst this is extreme its obvious that prolonged periods of sitting can be having an effect on both your long term health as well as your immediate wellbeing and how your body moves.

The NHS claims that the average person spends seven hours per day sitting and as you get older this typically climbs to around ten hours per day. This doesn’t seem too far fetched considering many jobs are more sedentary, screen time fills a lot of peoples recreational habits and transport through commuting and general day to day chores is increasing.

The negative issues with sitting are many but here are a few of the key issues

  • Obesity (less calories burned if inactive)
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Cancers
  • Musculoskeletal issues such as back pain, knee and shoulder pain.

Many of the above issues can be rectified by just moving more, breaking up your periods of sitting and choosing activities which mean less time spent sitting for example

  • Stand if using public transport
  • Stand if waiting in a foyer
  • Take a break and walk for five minutes each hour of sitting at a desk
  • Stand if on the phone 
  • Look at standing desk options

Incorporating things into your everyday life can help reduce many of the issues above but even if you do reduce the time spent sitting there is a still a large amount of issues that can occur from a musculoskeletal perspective with sitting for prolonged periods, most notably people report the following pains from prolonged sitting, especially in bad postures: Neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, knee pain. Typically this occurs due to the following

  • Neck pain due to a forward head posture causing tight upperback and neck muscles
  • Shoulder pain due to forward shoulder positioning leading to poor scapula control
  • Tightness in the front of the hips from prolonged hip flexed position of sitting leading to the lowerback being pulled on, tightening of the lowerback and less stability through the spine
  • Stretched long glute (Bum) muscles leading to poor control of the knee

Typically work in the gym stretching tight muscles and strengthening weak muscles will go a long way to reverse some of these issues, improve posture and reduce pain. However we can also look at the way we are seated to try and alleviate some of the issues.

Below are three positions to adopt when seated for prolonged periods, I would suggest swapping between them and your standard seated position frequently so you do not spend too much time in one position.

Hip opener seated position

Figure four seated position

Man spreading position

Combine the following to alleviate hip tightness with focused stretching and strengthening and most niggles throughout the body will go away. 

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Glen Danbury


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