Our society has gone from roaming the land as cavemen to the industrial age and performing hours of manual labor tasks to sitting at a desk for 8-11 hours per day on the computer. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with working at a computer. Our society has made leaps in bounds in many different areas from technology to medicine and many other things.
photo credit: https://ackers87.wordpress.com/2010/10/16/they-say-a-real-man-has-a-44inch-chest-shame-that-saying-doesn’t-apply-to-the-size-of-your-waist/
The problem here is that our body’s requirements really haven’t changed. Our body needs to move every day in order to stay healthy. When we have prolonged periods of time where we are immobile, this can lead to negative side effects.
According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, “sitting for 8-11 hours per day increases your risk of mortality by 46%!!!” Not only does sitting affect joint and muscle health, it can cause compression throughout the spine, the internal organs, and poor circulation throughout the legs.
Here are 3 tips to start moving and feeling better if you sit at a desk throughout the day while working.
1. Drink More Water!
photo credit: http://thefeedingdoctor.com/your-kids-cant-be-trusted-with-water/
The majority of people do not drink enough water. The old adage of “8 glasses of water per day” is no longer being used by health and fitness professionals.
Today, one of the daily recommendations is to take your body weight, ie. 150 lbs and divide it by 2. The number you have after dividing those two, in this case 75, is the number of ounces you should be drinking per day. This is only if you are not active. If you are active and exercise, etc, then you should be drinking more.
Another great way to tell if you are hydrated properly is by looking at the color of your urine. If your urine is clear or has a slight yellow tint to it, then you are properly hydrated. If it is has more of a yellow tinge, then you are dehydrated. If you have any type of health conditions, please check with your primary care physician before trying any of these tips.
2. Stand Up Every 30 Minutes
Now, if this helps you remember to stand up, then great! But there are more effective/less painful ways to remember. Use your Iphone timer or there are apps for your smart phone or computer that can remind you to stand up.
Back to what I said before about how the body likes to move, try by standing up from sitting every 30 minutes for 2-3 minutes. You can stand up and do a few stretches, go for a walk around the office, talk with a colleague, get a snack, or go use the restroom. This frequent changing of positions can make a world of difference in how you move and feel.
Personally, I treat patients as a physical therapist, but I also engage in administrative tasks throughout my day as well. If I am sitting at my computer for 60+ minutes, I notice I start to become stiff and achy. This is your body’s way of telling you to move around. It is ok to fidget. This is another way your brain tells your body to move around and change positions.
3. Do some form of stretching.
photo credit: http://totalformfitness.com/keep-muscles-limber/
Now there is a lot of debate in the health and fitness industries about the efficacy of
stretching and whether it is beneficial or not. If you sit or are in a prolonged position for a
certain amount of time, tension tends to build up in the areas that are shortened. These
photo credit: muscleseek.com
Hip Flexors (Rectus Femoris, Iliacus, Psoas)
photo credit: reddit.com
Calves (Gastrocnemius and Soleus)
photo credit: drpeggymalone.com
Butt (Gluteus Maximus)
photo credit: bretcontreras.com
By performing some type of stretching routine, whether it be a “hold for 30 seconds”
routine or some type of dynamic mobility warm-up, either one can be beneficial to get
your joints moving properly. The stretches demonstrated below are typical areas that are prone to tightness due to the nature of sitting.
Here is an example of a static stretching routine:
Corner Pectoral Stretch
photo credit: https://www.t-nation.com/training/right-way-to-stretch-the-pecs
-Find a corner and place palms flat on wall.
-Keep shoulder blades together and gently lean into corner.
-Stretch should be felt in the chest, between your shoulder and the midline of your body.
-Hold 30 seconds x 3 repetitions.
1/2 Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
-Place right knee down and left knee up.
-Place both hands on left knee.
-Press down firmly into left knee.
-Squeeze right butt as hard as you can.
-Gently lean forward.
-Stretch should be felt in front of right hip/thigh.
-Hold for 30 seconds x 3 repetitions, then switch sides.
Gastrocnemius (Calf) Stretch
-Place right leg back and left leg forward with hands on wall.
-Turn right leg slightly in towards the left leg.
-Lean towards wall until gently stretch is felt in back of right calf.
-Hold 30 seconds, 3 repetitions, then switch sides.
Soleus (Calf) Stretch
-Same as Gastrocnemius stretch, except that you bend the back knee.
-Stretch should be felt lower down towards the achilles/back of the heel.
-Hold 30 seconds x 3 repetitions, then switch sides.
Gluteus Maximus/Hip External Rotators Stretch
-Seated, cross one leg over the other, ie. cross right leg over left.
-Place both hands on right knee.
-Maintain a neutral spine/flat low back position.
-Gently pull right knee towards left shoulder.
-Stretch should be felt in back of hip/butt area.
-Hold 30 seconds x 3 repetitions, then switch sides.
Give these a try and let me know what you think!
Here I will be writing and posting about topics ranging from physical therapy, injury prevention/reduction, and strength and conditioning.