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Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt August 10, 2014
By Orlando Griffith
We spend most of our waking hours sitting. We begin the day sitting in cars
and taxis to get to work, we sit at our desks all day, we sit at lunch, and we sit
while on our way home to finally sit in front the television to perhaps fall asleep
seated on the couch. We sit too much. Numerous studies are being done on
the long-term effects on sitting all day, and results are showing that there are
strong correlations with heart disease and obesity, which should be a surprise
to no one, because sitting isn't an activity.
If you consider yourself to be an athlete, sitting causes shortening of many mus-
cle groups in the legs and upper body, which can hamper performance. Sitting
for long periods is bad for your butt, and even after you stand up the effects
still linger and prevent your butt muscles from firing properly. As an athlete,
that's not good, since the butt muscles (the largest muscles in the body) need
to be activated during movement. Deactivating these muscles by sitting on
them all day hampers mobility, and limitations to mobility in one area can have
an acute or chronic negative effects on another.
Massage therapists, athletic trainers, physiotherapists and other professionals
within the sports medicine field can immediately tell when an individual's injury
is associated with switched-off butt muscles. Other areas above or below are
overworked, and injury shows up. So, for instance, if you're suffering from a
lower back problem, perhaps your problem may not be the back but it may be
with your muscle firing sequence, causing your back muscles to be overworked
because your butt is still turned off from sitting all day. Taking care of your hips
can help improve posture as well; you would be surprised how tight muscles in
the legs and hips can work all the way up to you experiencing neck pain. So,
what can you do?
I would choose to stand as many times as possible during the day, and walk
more if the opportunity presents itself. Instead of making a phone call to the
next office upstairs or downstairs, take a walk to use your muscles, and even
create a better environment for communication in the workplace, which is good
Athletic individuals should strive to do some more stretching during the work
day, and before you workout you can begin with mobility exercises to improve
joint range of motion and blood flow within the muscles by performing these
Leg swings: Stand near a wall or a railing and swing one leg back and forwards
as high as possible, trying to keep the upper body as stable as possible, and then
switch legs. Do the same facing the wall, swinging from left to right. Perform
about 20 reps for good measure.
Deep squat holds: If you're old enough or aware of many of our ethnic and cul-
tural backgrounds, you should remember how many of our forefathers sat at
worksites or at the side of the road in a very deep squatted position and could
stay there all afternoon without complaining about their knees paining them?
Well, your goal is to be able to achieve that squat and hold as part of your
stretching routine. Get down and hold as long as possible. Try for 30 second in-
tervals at a time until you feel your muscles allowing you to get there.
Seated gluteus stretch or leg cradle: Sit on a chair (Yes I'm telling you to sit,
ironically) and place the ankle of one leg on top the knee of another and lean
forward , you should feel a nice stretch by your back and butt area. Hold for 30
seconds and perform a few reps until your range of motion becomes greater.
Backward lunge and hold: Stand facing any stable object that is hip height (a
table, chair, wall or railing) and perform a backward lunge while holding the ob-
ject. The difference in this lunge is to extend the back leg a lot further than a
regular lunge and hold the stretch. This lengthens the hip flexor muscles that
get shortened during sitting.
Door frame stretch: Stand in a doorway and place both hands on either side
of the door frame and lean forward, holding the frame firmly. You should feel a
nice stretch across your chest. This will relax tight pectoral muscles that causes
that slouched look; another side effect from sitting so long.
Finally, seek to perform exercises that keep your hips loose and mobile. Find
any reason to stand and stretch during the day if you want to keep a nice
shapely butt. Remember, if you don't use it you'll lose it! Good luck!
Orlando Griffith is an Athletic Development and Performance Specialist.
We spend most of our waking
hours sitting... We sit too much.
Numerous studies are being
done on the long-term effects
on sitting all day, and results are
showing that there are strong
correlations with heart disease
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