Everybody knows that, in general, we sit too much. We sit on the commute to work, the day at work and then the commute back home. Most people then sit more at home – whether it’s doing those last few tasks you didn’t finish at work, watching a bit of tv, or simply eating dinner with the family.
That’s a lot of sitting!
Our bodies are designed to move, and are very good at adapting to what you ask them to do. Just look at a sprinter verses a marathon runner – it’s easy to see that their bodies have adapted to what they do. The sprinter holds more muscle mass, because for the most part they will be running for around 10-15 seconds at an all out effort. The marathon runner is much more slender, because all that extra muscle is a handicap when you need to run for hours at a time.
Just like our Olympic examples, your body adapts to its daily tasks. If we are sitting all the time, guess what? Your body is going to structure itself to sit!
Your hamstrings will get tight / short (if your knee is always bent, they don’t need to be that long).
Your glutes will get weaker, and in some cases not activate at all (you don’t spend much time on your feet, they aren’t needed).
Your pecs will get tighter and pull on your shoulders due to long stretches at the computer desk.
Your upper back muscles will get weak and tight because when you slouch, they are put in a poor position to do their job.
Your lower back will get sore because your core and glutes no longer have the strength to properly support your spine.
At some point, these adaptations will usually lead to some pain. It might be neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain… it’s different for everyone. But it’s important to realise that the problem is one of movement and posture, not necessarily injury. This is why a big part of physiotherapy is providing homework – exercises to get you moving, and strengthen these weak areas.
So with Spring having sprung, get out there and move! Dust off the bicycle, get out for some walks/runs, hit the gym or the pool or the hiking trails. A teaspoon of prevention is better than a pound of cure 🙂