Happy New Year! Now that the holidays are over and most of us have gone back to work or are back into our routines, we have something important to tell you....Are you sitting down? Do you sit all day for your job? It is estimated that 86% of Americans spend the majority of their work day sitting. If you come home and watch television or relax on the couch, then you are spending additional time sitting. The average American can spend up to 10-13 hours a day sitting.
It is easy to comprehend that all of this sitting can be harmful for your body. First of all, it may affect your posture. A lot of sitting (especially sitting with incorrect posture) can lead to strain on your back muscles and spine. Additionally, sitting could lead to poor circulation in your legs. Among other adverse side effects, sitting might also lead to muscle degeneration as certain muscles do not get utilized. Many of you are sitting while reading this and getting a little concerned! What can you do to counteract the negative effects? Fortunately, there are three simple ways to counteract the effects of so much sitting.
This is as straightforward as it sounds. Approximately sixty minutes of activity per day will balance out many of the negative side effects of sitting. While an hour of activity may sound daunting, start incorporating activity in increments of 10-15 minutes into your day and you will be surprised how much you can fit in. Taking a walk during your lunch break or simply parking further away are simple ways to build exercise into your day.
We are not telling you that you have to go out and invest in a standing desk! (However, it is a great way to get out of your chair!) Standing up for 1-2 minutes every hour can help improve circulation and help engage some of the unused muscle groups in your body. Set a timer once per hour to remind you to get up out of your chair. (This does not mean that you need to stand up and get another donut out of the breakroom!)
Strategic Stretches and Exercise to Help
Here are a few strategic exercises that can help combat long hours sitting.
CAT AND COW STRETCH
It might look a bit odd if you start doing this at work, but at the end of the day when you get home it would be wise to do this stretch.
How to Do it:
While on your hands and knees in a crawl position, raise up your back and arch it towards the ceiling.
Next return to a lowered position and arch your back the opposite direction.
Planks are an excellent way to engage all of the muscles in your body. This exercise will
strengthen your core muscles, which is necessary if you tend to slouch in your chair.
How to Do it:
While lying face down, lift your body up on your elbows and toes. Try and maintain a straight spine. Do not allow your hips or pelvis on either side to drop. Maintain pelvic neutral position the entire time.
Neck Stretches and Strengtheners:
Looking down and slouching all day can really get those muscles aching by the time you get home. Take a few minutes to pause your work and do these great neck stretches right at your desk.
LEVATOR SCAPULAE STRETCH
Grasp your arm of the affected side and pull it gently towards the opposite side in front of your body. Next, tilt your head downward and to the side looking away from the affected side until a stretch is felt.
UPPER TRAP STERTCH
While sitting in a chair, hold the seat with one hand and bend your head towards the opposite side for a gentle stretch to the side of the neck.
Slowly draw your head back so that your ears line up with your shoulders.
When you sit all day, it is important to stretch out and utilize your hip flexor muscles. Glute bridges allow for hip extension.
How to Do it:
While lying on your back with knees bent, tighten your lower abdominals, squeeze your
buttocks and then raise your buttocks off the floor/bed as creating a "Bridge" with your body. Hold and then lower yourself and repeat
Although sitting can be hard on your body, it is easy to counterbalance it with these three things: start moving, stand up, and strategic exercises. All it takes is a little bit of intentionality to implement these three things and improve your quality of life. If you still feel like you would like to see one our therapists for postural restoration or have any questions above feel free to call our office (757)84 -6562 or firstname.lastname@example.org