Spending too much time in a seated position is obviously bad for your health. Unfortunately, many people have jobs that require sitting for extended periods. There have been multiple studies that have concluded that prolonged sitting is a risk factor for all cause mortality independent of physical activity. In a 2009 study by Katzmaryk, it was concluded that there was a dose response association between sitting time and mortality from all causes, independent of leisure time physical activity. Sitting also leads to increased an increase in neck, shoulder, lower back and hip pain. So, what are some good suggestions to help counteract the negative effects of sitting on the lower back and hips?
Spending a lot of time sitting can lead to lower back and hip pain because of the position your hip flexor muscles are put in while sitting.way The hip flexors are the muscles that bring the thigh in toward the chest. These consist mainly of the psoas and the iliacus, which join together above the hip to form the iliopsoas. As you can see from the picture, the psoas attaches on one end to the lumbar spine and the other end to the inside top of the femur (thigh bone). The iliac starts on the front and inside of the pelvis and also ends on the top of the femur.
When you are seated both the psoas and the iliacus are in their most shortened state, and the hamstring muscles (back of thigh) are also relaxed and shortened. This leads to a decrease in hip strength, tight inner thighs and weak outer thighs. The shortening of the hip flexors also tends to pull the lower spine out of alignment.
Here are a few daily stretches you can do to help reduce hip and lower back pain by lengthening the iliopsoas and hamstrings:
If your job requires you to sit all day there are several strategies you can use to help counteract the shortening of the hip flexor muscles. First, set a timer and try to get up and walk around every hour. Take frequent stretch breaks as well. While seated, you can practice diaphragmatic breathing and forward reaches every hour. Another strategy is to try sitting in different positions to do different things, such as leaning back with your entire spine in contact with the chair while reading something, sitting up straight with only the back of the buttocks touching the chair back while on the computer and sitting forward at the edge of the chair while shuffling papers. Do posture checks throughout the day making sure your ears and shoulders are aligned over your hips, your back is maintaining a normal curve, your feet are flat on the ground and your weight is distributed evenly on your buttocks. Pay attention to make sure you aren’t rounding your shoulders or jutting your head forward. Following these tips and making sure to stretch frequently throughout the day can help alleviate lower back and hip pain. If you want more workouts to help with posture and relieve pain please contact me!