The majority of us sit in a chair all day. This is not breaking news. It’s inevitable that we will have to sit for extended periods of time to get daily tasks accomplished. We sit all day at work and school. We sit in our cars, sometimes for hours. And we sit to eat a few times a day. Add all of that up, and that is a lot of sitting.
Many studies have shown that the average American can sit up to 12 hours a day. Sitting down too much can cause a multitude of problems. According to this British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that people who sit more have greater chances of diabetes, heart disease, low back pain, poor posture, and weight gain.
While exercising 30-60 minutes a day does decrease these risks, some research shows that this may not be enough. So, if we have no choice but to sit, a lot in some cases, what can we do to further reduce the nasty side effects of sitting?
The best thing to do is to take a 5-minute break for every 30-60 minutes that you are sitting. To further decrease sitting side effects, try these 5 mobility exercises to help improve range of motion in the hips and upper-back, and other areas that need some good movement.
1. Couch Stretch
Your hip flexors and lower back take a beating when sitting, making them tight and immobile. Grab a pad or other soft surface for your knee. Start with your back to the wall. Put one knee on a soft surface and bend it back until you have your foot up against the wall. The other knee should be bent in front of you at 90 degrees. Make sure to keep upright posture at all times. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side.
2. Assisted Squat Hold/Squat Position
If you don’t take the time to work your hips, ankles and glutes throughout the day, you will be too tight to lift weights properly when you eventually hit the gym. The squat position is one of the fundamental human movements that we need to spend some time in. Dr. Kelly Starrett from Mobility WOD recommends that people try to work up to 10-minute a day in this position. To loosen up, squat until your glutes nearly touch your heals; grab the edge of your desk for balance if you need to. Hold the position for 30 seconds, and then stand back up and repeat at least one more time throughout the day.
3. Foam Roll T-Spine Extension
Sitting can make your upper-back and neck very tense. Take your foam roller and lye down on it by placing the roller perpendicular to you on your middle back. Place your hands behind your head and lye back letting out a deep breath. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 5 more times in 5 different areas on your upper back.
4. Side Lying Open/Close Book
Are you having trouble looking in your blind side when driving or reaching in the back seat? Adding more rotation to your thoracic spice can help alleviate neck, back, and shoulder tightness and pain. Simply lye down on your side with your top leg bent at 90 degrees, and the other leg totally straight. Make sure you keep the bent knee on the ground at all times. Keeping your lower body as stable as possible, open up by trying to place your top arm towards the ground. Make sure to have your eyes and head follow your hand. Take a deep breath in and out as you rotate through the thoracic spine. Repeat this for 10 reps each side.
5. Table Top Stretch
This is a great bang for the buck mobility exercise that stretches out all of the muscles that get tight when sitting. Your hips get loosened up, as well as your shoulders, forearms and wrists, from all the typing and mouse usage on the computer. Start by sitting down on the floor with your hands placed behind you. Bridge up by lifting your hips as high as possible. Hold at the top and squeeze your glutes. Lower your body slowly and repeat for 10 total reps.
Daily Self Care is Where It’s At
You don’t have to workout everyday to be healthy and fit. But.. To improve your movement and reduce the negative side affects of sitting, you need to take 10-minutes a day to perform some self care. Stay consistent and watch your body stay mobile and pain free.