If You Sit or Drive, Read On

The way Americans sit is so disfiguring.

Whether you’re in an office or a carpool, the average amount per day on your seat ranges from five to seven hours.

A prolonged – and poor – sitting posture gives you three “gifts”:
 •  Mushy abs
•  When you stand, move or even sit up straight, abdominal muscles keep you upright. But when you slump in a chair or car, they go unused. Tight back muscles and wimpy abs form a posture-wrecking alliance that can exaggerate the spine’s natural arch, a condition called hyperlordosis, or swayback.

•  Tight hips
•  Flexible hips help keep you balanced, but chronic sitters so rarely extend the hip flexor muscles in front that they become short and tight, limiting range of motion and stride length. Studies have found that decreased hip mobility is a main reason elderly people tend to fall.

•  Limp glutes
•  Sitting requires your glutes to do absolutely nothing, and they get used to it. Soft glutes hurt your stability, your ability to push off and your ability to maintain a powerful stride*.

You cannot get a strong core/hip flexor/glute workout by sitting at a desk or in a car all day. To begin turning the tide in your body’s favor, take the following baby steps to good sitting posture:

•  Sit with your legs uncrossed with ankles in front of the knees.
•  Place both feet firmly on the floor. Get yourself a footrest if your feet don’t reach.
•  Your knees should be lower than your hips and the back of your knees should not touch the seat.
•  If your chair has an adjustable backrest, move it to support the arch in your low back. If you don’t have a backrest, ask your employer about getting one or invest in it yourself.
•  Get up and move around every hour. Take a break from sitting even if you cannot stop working. Make a phone call standing up or close your office door and lie down for a few minutes on your stomach. At the very least, shift your sitting position occasionally.

Good sitting posture reduces the stress on ligaments. Ligaments are responsible for holding the joints together, so ligament stresses can make you prone to joint injuries.
Abnormal motions or positions that are repeated over and over again on a daily basis are contributors to degenerative arthritis and joint pain.

There are so many things you can do to protect your body from aging poorly, but first thing’s first: Sit up, take notice, and refine your seated posture.

–Megan

*Source: washingtonpost.com