By now, we’ve all heard about the detrimental effects that sedentary behavior can have on our bodies and our overall health. While knowing this information is important, many of us still find it difficult to get enough physical activity in during the day, especially for those who sit at a desk for work. The average American spends 12 hours a day sitting. That’s at the very least half of your day spent sitting! But what does sitting for long periods of time actually do to our bodies and our muscles?
But(t) what’s going on?
It’s no surprise that your glutes are the most negatively affected muscle from sitting for long periods of time. This is because your hip flexors. Hip flexors connect the top of the femur to the lower back, hips and groin. They’re vital in allowing us to move and damage or strain to them can cause serious pain and mobility issues. When you sit for too long, your hip flexors suffer, becoming tight, and your glutes have to compensate. When this happens repeatedly, the glutes can no longer actively properly, and then other muscles need to compensate for it. This domino effect can lead to pain, such as lower back pain, and problems with mobility and posture.
While you may be required to sit at a desk for work, there are solutions you can take advantage of off the clock. Stretches and exercises that help strengthen abdominal muscles and lower back will in turn help your posture. The majority of these moves aim to strengthen the core muscles, and the stretches are pertinent to avoid tightness in the hip flexors and pelvis.
Laying flat on your back, lift your legs up and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle. Reach your arms up straight, palms facing away from you. Make sure your shins are parallel to the flower. Slowly lower one foot to the ground and straighten it at the same time, engaging your core so that it stays flat against the floor. At the same time, reach the opposite arm straight back beyond your head. You want both your foot and your hand to hover over the ground, not quite making contact. Do the same movements with the other leg and arm. Complete 10 reps on each side.
Conducting a simple plank will really strengthen your abdominal muscles, as well as align your pelvis correctly. Lying face down, push yourself up so your elbows are stacked underneath your shoulders, and you’re on your toes. Keeping your eyes on the ground, slightly in front of you, imagine a straight line going from the back of your head all the way down to your heels. Engage your core here so that you avoid having a dip in your lower back. Hold for 30 seconds at least twice.
3. Sumo Squats
These ensure that your glutes, quads, and hamstrings don’t get tight. Place your feet slightly wider than hip width apart, toes pointing forward. Holding either a kettlebell, or one dumbbell at your chest, lower down into a deep squat, keeping your knees straight over your toes and the weight back in your heels. Keep your chest up and your back at a 45-degree angle. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps.
Written by GUADS staff member Emily with contributions from www.self.com.