We all sit so this applies to everyone, but if you have a desk job, drive for most of the day, or find yourself sitting to watch hours of television you are most affected. The flexion at the hips and rear tilt of the pelvis causes a muscular imbalance through the powerhouse of your body, your hips. Any athlete will tell you that the body’s power comes from its ability to ground itself from the center, move and adjust rapidly, and have full range of motion in any plane. Ongoing tightening causes energy build up, affects the nervous system’s response to stress and rapid motion, and causes emotional drain due to the stress signals being fired from our root, our most grounded point. The body was designed to move. Don’t you feel better physically and emotionally when you get up and walk around?
Many people have moved to standing/sitting desks and take walk breaks at work. Even stillness is an overuse activity. If you have already made desk changes, terrific! Keep yourself moving but know that you must also take action to correct the years of imbalance that have already occurred.
So what’s happening? The primary muscles affected by the seated position and lack of movement is the iliopsoas (psoas). Did you know the psoas is the only muscle that crosses the upper and lower body? And it crosses diagonally though the body from the spine to the femur, cradling organs along the way. The overuse injury caused by sitting and lack of movement shortens and tightens the psoas overtime resulting in these physical characteristics:
- Middle/Low back pain
- Hamstring strain
- Distension of the gut
- Excess curve of the low back from pelvis anterior tilt
- Decreased blood flow and nerve response delay in the hips
- Quadriceps overdevelopment
- Weak gluteals
- Knee Pain
It is important that our body stays in balance from top to bottom, back to front and side to side. To help correct the tightened psoas group it is important to incorporate exercises that not only stretch it, but also exercises to strengthen the gluteal group. Below is a little stick figure chart I drew for you to help stretch and strengthen. Start incorporating these movements into your activity routine several times a week, take breaks to walk around and feel the difference!
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