Living a sedentary lifestyle? Don’t let it affect your health. Do these SIMPLE stretches and exercises when you are sitting all day.
Can sitting too much hurt your hips?
Over time, any repetitive movement or position can cause our bodies to get out of whack. So yes, sitting falls into that category. Other than lack of activity, it seems kind of weird that something so natural can be so damaging to our bodies. But it’s not because sitting is bad. It’s just that sitting all day, nonstop, for days, weeks, or even years can really add up. It can have some bad consequences.
Like muscular imbalances. That’s when a muscle (more often a muscle group) is over or under active. This can pull our posture out of alignment. In ny experience, imbalances can also cause pain it in the form of spasms. Or chronic discomfort and ache from surrounding muscles that are lacking support or being forced to compensate.
Chronic aches and pains can be demotivating when it comes to workouts. Exercising can feel like the last thing you want to do when your body hurts.
How can I reverse the effects of sitting all day
In order for our bodies to stay in a position, our muscular system has to be working. Maybe not very hard, but our muscles are working. Some are contracted and some are lengthened. When we sit (in a chair and in a “normal” position), our hip flexors and hamstrings are contracted/shortened while our glutes and quads are lengthened.
So what we need to do is activate/strengthen those underactive and lengthened muscles then relax/lengthen the overactive and tight muscles. This approach is called corrective exercise. Exercise that is used to improve movement patterns and realign posture. But you don’t have to be a trainer to help yourself. Some exercises are not specifically corrective. But when used in the same workout with proper programming, you can create a corrective workout.
This is great when you are new to making your own workouts. Although I have a great Lower Body Corrective Workout if you want a simple workout to follow! Filled with stretches and exercises for sitting all day.
The same way that all those hours of sitting can add up to hurt your body, hours of new daily habits can add up to help your body. Start by standing and walking as often as you can. Stand at your desk. Taking a walk break every hour. Parking farther. Taking the stairs. Watch TV standing for an episode. Eat standing. Whatever way you can fit it in!
What are the best stretches and exercises for sitting all day
The best stretches are those that elongate the hip flexors since they spend the most time shortened. My favorite ones that anyone can do is a runner’s stretch and pigeon. You can do either on the ground or elevate yourself on a chair for more control and/or depth. You also should take some time to stretch your abdominals. Seems weird, but when we sit we are usually slightly crouched or even leaning forward. Flexing the abdominals. So a simple stretch like this should do the trick! Plus it’s kind of a lazy one.
A simple and very effective stretch that is good for targeting the hamstrings is a forward fold. Start by standing in a staggered stance and hinging forward from the hips to a depth that is good for your mobility. The key is to maintain a flat and long spine so the hamstrings stay the targeted group.
As far as exercises, we want to focus on activating the glutes and quads. They tend to work inversley so we will have a variety of exercises that seem like they counter each other but don’t sweat it, I’ll show you the best ones.
As always, if you have been here for a while you know the squat is one of my favorites. I talk about it more here. But the squat targets both the quads and the glutes, just at different times of the movement. We also want to use moves that really isolate the glutes. Like kickbacks, back extensions, and deadlifts.
Fire hydrants are also another key movement because they strengthen our external rotators. When we are seated we tend to draw our knees together, using internal rotation.
How much exercise for a sedentary lifestyle
As. Much. As. Possible. Well, to a degree. Obviously I don’t mean you have to live in the gym now. But squeeze it in whenever you can. It doesn’t have to be a full blown workout, just some activity. Do your best to get 20 to 30 minutes of exercise or a workout in most days out of the week. Figure out what works for you and make those small changes. Soon you won’t feel like you are sitting all day long.
For more info like this, I have posts for prenatal mamas with hip pain and back pain. And I didn’t forget my postpartum mamas that need some help with their back pain too! All of these help articles help you relieve discomfort from poor aligntment and posture.