Hey everyone! We are back with another blog series! This time we are tackling the issue of movement at work … we will be going through the implications of not moving all day, how we can help combat the effects of prolonged sitting and methods to get more activity into your daily life!
This week, we are starting with what happens when we stay seated for too long!
I will set the scene. It is 4:35pm and you are in your office, at your desk. The only movement you have done today is to grab food for lunch and the occasional cup of coffee or tea! For 95% of your day you have been sat at your computer or laptop.
The issue with this is we have been inactive and sat down for the whole day, which is bad for our posture, our heart and our overall health and wellbeing.
What is it doing to my posture?
In order to best explain this, I will explain the effects of prolonged sitting on the two main areas…
Being in a seated position, our thighs are typically at 90 degrees, meaning our hips are flexed. What this does over time after hours / days of continual sitting is tighten up the hip flexors: Psoas major, iliopsoas and the rectus femoris and our quadriceps: Vastus Intermedius, Vastus Lateralis, Rectus Femoris, Vastus Medialis.
As we know, muscles work together in pairs (agonists and antagonists / working and non working). Whilst we are in this position our Glutes and Hamstrings de activate and weaken.
Over time this tightening and weakening of these muscles can pull the hip forwards resulting in what is known as “anterior pelvic tilt”, where the front of your pelvis rotates downwards, pulling it out of line and out of the ideal neutral position.
Shoulders, Spine and Neck
As with the hip, when sat down often the position people adopt is a hunched over posture, where the shoulders are rounded forward, head creeps forwards and down and our thoracic spine adopts a rounded or ‘flexed’ position.
Again, this causes certain muscles to shorten, and often strengthen pulling our joints out of our optimum position whilst the opposite muscles weaken and allow this to happen. In our shoulders, with the rounded position, the pec minor, major and anterior deltoid shorten pulling the shoulder joint forwards whilst the muscles that would normally retract the shoulder: Posterior deltoid, rhomboids, serratus anterior, lower latissimus dorsi, middle and lower trapezius weaken and deactivate. An often subsequence of this is losing our scapular position as they are pulled forward with the shoulder. All this results in our thoracic spine also being pulled forward into a flexed position what is known as a “kyphotic” or “rounded posture”.
The same happens to our neck and head position. What often happens is the adoption of a forward head posture. What happens here is our deep neck flexors pull our head forwards whilst our back neck muscles: the upper trapezius and levator scapula, don’t have the strength to pull our head back and are stretched to their limit and tighten up. This can have side effects such as neck pain and headaches.
Did You Know?
Did you know that for every inch that your head protrudes forward from its normal alignment, you add 10 extra pounds of force on your neck.
All of the above takes our body out of the optimal neutral range that we want to be in during every day life. This doesn’t mean that our posture is like this just when sitting, when we are walking, running and sleeping. Without correction, these postural changes can cause back pain, neck pain, hip pain, pain when running and even pain when sleeping.
The best way to avoid all of this is to move more at work and exercise regularly, with correct postural corrective exercises. In the next article I will be taking you through some key movements you can do at your desk and work to limit the effects of prolonged sitting!
How do I fix this?
Look out for next weeks article, where I will be giving you eight simple exercises that can be performed at your desk and in the office to counteract the prolonged sitting!