We are hearing a lot lately about the ill effects of sitting for long hours; something that has been part of our daily lives since first grade. Our bodies are not meant to sit for long periods without moving.
The long-term effects of sitting are increased pressure on the intervertebral discs - the springy, shock-absorbers of the spine, shortened hamstring muscles in the back of our legs and tight hip flexors. These conditions can cause pain and set us up for injury.
Here are some things to try to avoid sitting for too long:
- Try "dynamic sitting" - don't stay in one place for extended periods.
- Alternate between standing and sitting as much as you can.
- Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your lower back (hip-torso angle should be 90 degrees or greater.)
- Adjust the height of your chair so your feet rest flat on the floor.
- Your thighs should be parallel to the floor and knees about the same level as your hips.
- Back of your knees should be about 2-3 inches away from the edge of the seat pan.
There are also stretches that can help. For pectoral muscles in the chest, (they shorten and tighten from working on a computer) try these two:
- The "Executive Stretch": Sitting at your desk, lock your hands behind head and bring your elbows back as far as possible, then inhale deeply while leaning back and stretching. Hold for 20 seconds, then exhale and relax.
- The "Doorway Stretch": Standing in a doorway, with feet hip-width apart, place your hands on either side of the frame. Your hands should be a little lower than shoulder height. With an exhale, gently lean forward.
I am offering a Desk Sitting Recovery class which is 45 minutes of stretching and strengthening at Skin To Soul, 38 Montvale Ave., Stoneham, Tuesdays from 12-12:45 p.m.