Sitting Will Kill You – A Simple Yet Highly Effective Mobility Exercise You Can Do at Work or Anywhere

Posted: May 8, 2015 by dannytwoguns in Articles

I had noticed for a period of time that I was feeling more tight than usual – which isnt normal becuase I actually never feel tight at all, and I was starting to “feel tight”. My range of motion and movement abilities weren’t suffering from a competency standpoint but the way they were feeling was definitely different, not for the better.

I wasnt exactly sure what it was because my nutrition hadn’t really changed (we under emphasize how poor diets effect movement let alone fat loss or gain but that’s another story) and my workouts weren’t a whole lot different so I didn’t immediately know.

But then I realized that the only difference was that I was sitting and doing more computer related work in the past month (or a few) than I had previously and my mobility was paying the price for it. I used to stand and move around a lot more during work than I was now and sitting is no one’s friend regardless of how we’ve accepted it as normal.

I read something that said sitting for 6-8 hours a day is worse for your health than smoking. While that is probably a slight exaggeration (though it may not be), it definitely has some truth to it for at least the perspective that sitting is THAT bad for you, though probably not as deadly as smoking is.

Dont smoke and dont sit.

I dont have any hard statistics but I do have this graph…

 

But seriously… A quick run-down of why sitting is so bad.

As people get older, to the elderly age, they start to get weak and tight in the front of the their hips which makes them lean forward and they also get tight in the chest muscles and weak in the upper back, making it round forward so they move with their shoulders rounded forward and their hips back and eventually are unable to walk because it hurts their back or they aren’t physically strong enough to walk in that position because well, you aren’t supposed to walk in that position, let alone when you are getting weaker with age.

When this happens – essentially your death is near or you die. Harsh truth but if you cant move, you die from some ailment or illness.

Sitting puts you in that same exact position. It shortens the front of your hips/hip flexors, making you tight because you are always making those muscles short and inactive which then hurts your lower back because it tries to be your inactive/short hip flexors.

It rounds your shoulders forward and develops a forward head posture, which is also bad for your lower back because your upper back is meant to extend (bend back for lack of better terminology), your lower back isnt and if your upper back cant extend because it is flexed forward all the time, your lower back will be the victim because it will be trying to be something it physically cannot be or do something it physically cannot do.

You wouldnt ask your dog to be your cat, so dont ask your lower back to be your upper back.

And sitting is of course, done on those major moving muscles called your glutes, making them inactive because if you are compressing them by sitting on them all day how can they possible learn to be active when they need to?

Plus 8 out of 10 people noted the glutes as the most attractive quality they desire in a significant other. (Source – Danny Twoguns’ Made Up Facts).

But seriously, a nice set of glutes is not only great for function and great to look at, you shouldnt sit on them all day.

Bad Sitting Posture

That looks like it hurts.

Long story short, sitting is bad for you. Obviously we cant completely avoid sitting, but we can minimize it and do things intermittently that help alleviate its destruction.

Not used to being a person who sits a lot, I made it a point to add some mobility or “greasing the grooves” work to my time spent at my desk and randomly throughout the day to offset some of it.

First thing people say is, “Well you work in a gym, you can. I don’t have time.”

But that my friend, is bullshit. You have time and everything I need to do to keep mobile throughout the day, can be done anywhere, not just a gym. And you have time for a minute or two every hour to move a little bit.

But things you can do extra is another blog for another day – and possibly a topic for the Inner Circle 🙂

But what can you can do to alleviate the detriment of sitting, which will not only help you live longer, help you lose fat because you move better and it immediately makes you feel better, without adding any time to your day?

One easy “exercise”.

We don’t realize how crappy it makes us feel until we are actively trying to fix it and then like magic, your mood gets better because your body doesn’t feel like tight crap anymore.

So what is the one best bang for you buck thing you can do that doesnt even effect time because it isnt adding any to your day?

The Tall Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Extremely simple and extremely effective.

You are going to do this instead of sitting, so as said, there really is no time excuse at all as it is done in substitution of sitting – Im actually in the position now as I type this.

The benefit here to two-fold, you are able to stretch out the front of your hip/hip flexors out of that shortened position sitting puts you in and you are also able to “activate” the glutes, obviously by not sitting on them but also by being able to contract them.

An added bonus is it automatically takes you out of that rounded shoulder position because you have to actively try to do it rather than it being the comfortable default like sitting.

Form

Knees are right under hips and your feet are straight back from your knees, making parallel lines, avoid the want to put your feet together.

The position of your toes can be pointed or can be flexed toward your shins, go with whatever you do less often while sitting or the one that feels better, some people have to point until they get a little more mobile or less their knees start to bug them.

Your hips are directly on top of knees, trunk directly on top of hips and shoulders directly on top of your trunk. Imagine your pelvis/hips as a bucket of water and you want that bucket ever so slightly pouring water behind you.

A good Tall Kneeling position looks like this…

Tall Kneel Good

A handsome coach who wears a female tank top to give female clients the confidence to rock tank tops themselves looks like this…

Thumbs Up for Female Tanks

Plus, chest hair.

For the tall kneeling position, you can put something under your knees like a small cushion, towel, anything soft to give you support if you need it. The goal isnt to put pressure on the knee into the ground, but you should be able to do this position with something soft underneath, if not without. Depending on the surface of course.

Here are two examples of bad ones…

Tall Kneel Bad 2

Too much extension through your back and your pelvis bucket not tipped forward.

Tall Kneel Bad 1

This is probably the more common one in people who sit a lot as this the “tight hips compensation”. Hips are so tight they have a hard time fully extending and getting under your trunk. Actively avoid this, even if it means you can only hold the stretch for so long.

Once you have this position in a comfortable, relaxed state, the next step is to actively squeeze your glutes as if you were trying to crack a walnut between your butt cheeks. You can do this for 6 reps of 5 second holds and alternating between sets of that and sets of just holding in relaxed posture. Relaxed posture meaning nothing is actively squeezed and you can breathe easily. You need both. Glutes shouldnt be squeezed and hard the entire time, just for a few sets and reps.

How long is usually the next question and there isnt a “too long”. Tall Kneeling is essentially a more stable version of standing so the answer is no less than 5 minutes every hour you sit or as long as your hamstrings and stabilizers can handle. Being in this position for a long duration while you work at a desk is more taxing than you think.

For me, my hamstrings are what gets tired first, for you it may be different.

Note that this is in substitution of sitting, it does not in any way, shape or form take the place of a strength training program or a fitness regimen nor will it cure any diseases.

But it will help you feel better and move better and avoid the detriments of sitting for long periods of time, especially when it comes to getting your training in and moving better in every day life.

The June Issue of the Twoguns Training Systems’ Newsletter is going to feature an emphasis on mobility to get people feeling better and moving well and also some “Mobility For Fat Loss” Workouts. If you dont want to miss out head over to the Inner Circle page and get signed up so you have it as soon as it is out and can enjoy the content that is already out. Hope to see you over there.

If you have any questions about the article or about the Inner Circle you can always contact me on Facebook or send an email to staff[@]twogunstrainingsystems.com, minus the [] signs. Look forward to hearing from you.

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Comments
  1. […] talked about a great substitution for sitting in this blog – “Sitting Will Kill You – A Simple Yet Highly Effective Mobility Exercise You Can Do At W… as something to do instead of sitting, and while it may get you funny looks, it is very effective […]

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