The damage you do when you sit too much.

I wrote a blog called Sitting is the New Smoking a while ago. I want to add to some of those thoughts with this blog.

The reason for my interest in this subject is that I deal with many athletes on a daily basis. These are people who love training. However, despite their discipline and effort, many battle with issues caused by too much sitting.

The obvious dilemma is that most urban based careers force people to sit for protracted periods of time. sitting xray

So, here is a list of the things I have noticed:

  1. Tight hip flexors.
    Your hip flexors are those muscles that help swing your legs forward. As a runner they engage so as to swing your leg forward before your foot strikes the ground, as a cyclist they can be engaged when pulling the pedal upward from the 7 o’clock position all the way to about the 11 o’clock position, and as a swimmer your kick should come from the hips, and thus the flexors are used to push your knee and foot down into the water.I was having a meal with my family recently at a place where a number of cyclists end their rides and stop for a bite to eat. More than half of the cyclists were walking around with a very distinct forward bend emanating from their hips. You can guess what happened, their hip flexors had shortened from –  a. too much sitting while on the bike and, b. from being used to pull the pedal upward.I notice this tendency very clearly when we get runners on the treadmill. Their leg is unable to push fully backward, and as their leading leg touches the ground in front, the trailing leg shoots forward. This will slow a runner down and can cause injury.
    A tight psoas muscle will put huge pressure on the spine. You can read more about the psoas here.
  2. Shortened Hamstrings.
    Shortened hamstrings pull back on the hips and effect pelvic tilt. Tightened hamstrings can cause havoc when you train. The tightness can develop into a high hamstring tendinopathy,which is notoriously difficult to get rehabilitated.
  3. A tight Piriformis.
    Your piriformis muscle runs across your sciatic nerve. Allow it to get too tight and it will cause all sorts of grief as it presses on this all important nerve. I cannot believe how many tight piriformis muscles we see. You can read more about the condition here.
  4. Lower and upper back issues.
    Many people allow their hips to slouch backwards, and then slouch their shoulders forward. You really want to sit tall. The main take home point here is this; human bodies are malleable. Slouch backwards with your hips, and that position can become permanent. Roll your shoulders forward, and they can get set in that position. The reverse is also true: Work on your posture, and you can positively reshape your body.
    sitting apple

What to do:

  1. I would suggest that you break up each hour at work as follows:
    – a quick walk, preferably incorporating some stairs (3 minutes)
    – the remainder of the half hour, 27 minutes spent sitting.
    – a quick walk, again, preferably including some stairs
    – the remainder of the half hour spent standing at a stand up desk.
  2. Get your muscles that go along the back of your neck, down your spine, glutes, hamstrings and calves as strong as possible. In Anatomy Trains thinking, this line is known as your superficial back line. A good place to start would be by regularly doing supermen. See the picture below. Superman-exercise
  3. Keep the muscles along your superficial backline supple. You can read more about that here.
  4. Get tight structures released. Methodologies can include massage, myofascial release, dry needling and the use of kinesiology tape. Give us a call if I can help.
  5. Make movement a priority: Swim, bike, run, use the stairs, walk, dance, stretch. Do whatever it takes to do what your body was designed to do, and that’s move.

Hope this helps.


Mike Roscoe.
Mike Roscoe




About sbrsport

SBR Sport specialises in Swimming, Biking and Running. On the medical side we are able to do intensive bike setups, leg assessments and soft tissue release. - and/or facebook -
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