How much of your day is spent looking like this guy?
Your body is designed to MOVE
When you sit in a chair similar to our friend here your body conforms to the position by shortening the hamstrings and hip flexors, rounding out the spine and rolling the shoulders forward and inwards- especially if your arms are out in front of you as in driving or using a computer. While these changes aren’t bad, and neither is sitting for that matter, how many hours of your day, would you say, are spent sitting in that one position?
The human body is amazing and efficient. It adapts to meet demand and molds itself to suit our daily needs and activity levels. Think, for a moment, about how often you are in a seated position throughout your day. At breakfast, driving to work, sitting at your desk, in a meeting, at a restaurant for lunch, on an airplane, in an uber, driving home, sitting at dinner, sitting on the couch, sitting at the bar… the list goes on. Fascial and muscle tissue responds to this feedback all day long and both the elastic and plastic properties of the tissues can change. The elasticity of tissue allows it to snap back in place during fast actions, like during an explosive box jump, but if it is pulled or shortened slowly over time, it can change more permanently (think about slowly pulling apart a plastic shopping bag) and lose some of it’s “snap”. “Chronic” sitting can create these kind of lasting changes and you may find over time that they are not the adaptations you’re looking for. Your head shifts forward adding strain to your neck, your chest caves in and your shoulders round, increasing that strain on your upper back. Your hips are so used to being flexed so they stiffen up, changing the orientation of your pelvis even in standing and running. Your hamstrings are tight and shortened which can limit your mobility. At best, these adaptations lead to inefficient biomechanics, at worst they lead to pain.
So what can you do?
Make small incremental changes to your day- stand up every 10-20 minutes, stretch your neck, move your shoulders, saw the legs off of your desk and sit in a deep squat on the floor while you’re typing on your laptop (optional)… and become best friends with your self-care tools like the foam roller and a lacrosse ball.
Don’t let pain get in the way of you living your best life. Try these!
Pectoral Opener with Barbell
Lying on the floor with one arm out like you’re going for a high five- pin the end of a barbell in the meaty part of your pec muscles just inside the point of your shoulder.
Take it slow- find a point that is tender - but not too painful - and breathe. Slowly roll the bar out to also get the bicep, taking your time along the way to pin down any sore points.
You may move your arm in any position to deepen the pressure.
Hip Flexor (TFL) Release
Standing upright, perpendicular to a wall, pin a lacrosse ball between your tensor fascia latae (TFL) and the wall. You can this spot by locating the pointy part of your hip bone in the front and move down about an inch and back about an inch- it may feel tight or tender.
Once you have the spot pinned play with moving your leg around in small circles or forward and back. You can also roll the ball back further and work your glutes!
Lateral Neck Flexion with Strap
Grab a strap, towel or band and loop it over your one shoulder. Take the
end of the strap with the opposite hand and gently pull down. This will anchor the shoulder and first rib- deepening your stretch. Then shift your head away from the strapped shoulder until your feel a stretch. Hold for about 30s and repeat 2-3 times. Play with the head position- you’ll feel when you’re getting a good stretch!
Have fun and let us know what you think!