Read This if You Sit in a Chair All Day

Know what to lengthen and what to strengthen to stay pain-free

There are a few basic things you would want to know if you spend most of your working day at a desk. It’s great if you have a regular workout routine to offset all that sitting down. Plus, employers are becoming more and more cognizant of the fact that employees’ physical health is important to them, if for no other reason than productivity. Ergonomic office furniture, including standing and treadmill desks, are no longer exceptions, but are becoming new norms. That’s nice, but if the trend hasn’t blessed your workspace just yet, or if you’d just rather take a seat, then this is for you.

When we sit in a chair, or say, when we stand on one leg and lift the opposite leg with bended knee toward our chin or chest, this is known as hip flexion. This means when we’re sitting, our hips are flexed the whole time. The muscles that are involved in hip flexion are contracted, these are called the agonists, they are the muscles that make the movement possible. Meanwhile, and quite naturally, all the muscles that allow us to perform the movement that is the opposite of hip flexion (hip extension), and which are now called the antagonists, are lengthened and relaxed. This is the cool thing about the body’s muscoskeletal system: sometimes it helps to think of it as a system of ropes and pulleys, where if one network of muscles is working, their opposing network of muscles has to relax.

In describing this situation of being seated all day long and having your hips in flexion, it means that some muscles are overworked, while others are becoming weak. The overworked muscles need to be stretched and lengthened, while the underworked muscles need to be exercised, if you are to prevent injury or possibly the onset of pain that is not injury-related. So, in short, you’ll need to stretch your core, the sides of your thighs and the front of your thighs. You’ll need to strengthen your glutes (butt muscles!), your inner thigh muscles (remember the thigh master?) and your hamstrings. If you suffer lower back pain that has no discernible cause, chances are your glutes aren’t activating correctly during your gait (especially the gluteus on the upper side of the buttocks, known as the gluteus medius). Everything in nature, as in the human body, must exist in a state of equilibrium to maintain optimal systems’ health. When things are imbalanced then the opportunities for dysfunction arise.

Thanks for reading!

Dr Samar Habib

Samar Habib is a writer, researcher and educator who lives in California. She’s passionate about reducing suffering and increasing compassion in the world, one mind at a time. When she’s not busy figuring out how things work and how they could be working better, you’ll find her sharing what she’s learned with clients, in seminars, public lectures, books and online courses. In fact, you can check out more of her lifestyle management hacks by taking her course Quantum Mind: How to Put an End to Suffering and Take Back Your Life. You can get in touch with her on drsamarhabib [at] email [dot] com.

Originally published at

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