Most people sit more than 8 or 9 hours a day. A few simple moves are required to help decrease the risk associated with sitting. It’s common knowledge that cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and a multitude of other life-threatening illnesses. According to the American Diabetes Association, sitting is the next “cigarette.” However, sitting is to a writer and a myriad of other professions, as running is to an athlete. It’s essential, and most of us experience pain as a result.
Solutions are few and far between and include things like standing desks (with different health issues) and expensive treadmill desks which contain inherent risks. Aside from the obvious of multitasking 2 different types of activities, one of which is on a moving machine — I know I’d fall flat on my face, and if I didn’t fall, I’d be trying not to fall instead of working.
Diane Foley — Physical Therapist
We are going to have a guest for this next series. Diane Foley is a physical therapist who is going to share a few simple moves that you may have done or heard of before, but always check with your physician before you make any changes to your health regimen and if something hurts when you do it, immediately stop.
First, a little background on Diane:
- She received her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Sports Science at the University of New Mexico in 1986 and her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy at Stockton State College in 1992.
- Diane worked as an inpatient and outpatient Physical Therapist for McKee hospital for 11 years and has been actively setting up exercise programs for individuals for the last 8 years.
- She is passionate about motivating people to become healthy so they can enjoy life to the fullest!
According to Diane, “Sitting for prolonged periods of time can put your body at risk for pain syndromes and injury due to muscle tightness. The good news is everyone has the ability to avoid and even reverse painful and tight muscles by taking short breaks during the day and actively stretching.”
Diane will identify the 5 most common muscle groups that tighten up with prolonged sitting and follow each muscle group with a stretch that can loosen up tight muscles. Each stretch should be performed for 20-30 seconds 2-3 times.
The first involves the neck muscles.
“Most people strain their neck forward when looking down or at a computer screen for prolonged periods of time.” To help alleviate this problem, Diane suggests the Side Bend Stretch.
Side Bend Stretch:
Sit or stand with your arms at your side. Keeping your shoulders down, move your head to the right trying to touch your ear to your shoulder until you feel a gentle stretch of the neck muscles on the left side. Optional: to further stretch, take your right hand and very gently put a small pressure on your head and try to stretch the ear to the shoulder a little further.
Hold for 20-30 seconds and return to starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.
This is the first in a series of helpful stretches from Diane. Stay tuned for more.
If your job requires extensive sitting, do you have any recommendations for alleviating the pain?