Sitting Is Killing You(r Hotness)!
Modern life provides us with many comforts. We’ve traded farm tools for spreadsheets, and a spear for Seemless Web. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Lack of activity–specially sitting for hours on end–is making you soft, weak, and is probably killing you.
Ok, maybe not killing you.
The truth is worse. Much worse.
It’s making you less hot.
Stand Up For Your Right To Be Hot.
You’re sitting at your desk in the office.
You’re sitting in a train or in traffic.
You’re sitting at home after a hard day’s work.
You’re probably sitting right now, as you read this article.
Sitting for a long time leads to loads of nasty things.
“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death,” says Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic.
Jeez, Dr. Levine. Sensationalistic much?
While that might be a bit of a stretch, other researchers say that sitting for prolonged periods of time is associated with a significantly higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and depression, as well as muscle and joint problems.
Yea, But What About The Hotness Thing?
Right, that is why you’re here after all.
For starters, we’ll talk about how posture affects men. Good posture screams “Alpha Male” because it shows everyone around you that you’re secure in your own body.
The opposite is also true; insecure people often have a terrible posture. It’s almost as if they purposely try to hide by making themselves as small as possible when they slouch.
While slouching also affects women, they tend to suffer from anterior pelvic tilt because, in an effort to display their “assets,” some women roll their hips backwards to create the illusion of more junk in the trunk. Ironically, in the long term, this has the opposite effect.
In this position, the hips and glutes don’t work to their full potential. Instead, the body compensates
by making the front of your legs (quadriceps) work harder. Until this postural issue is addressed, all the squatting in the world isn’t going to fix that pancake butt.
To borrow from the great urban poet, Sir Mix-A-Lot, we want to you have a “healthy butt,” literally. If you currently suffer from back problems, it’s very likely that anterior pelvic tilt is the problem.
Why Your Posture Sucks: Tight Muscles
Sitting for hours, compounded over years, contributes to loss of ankle mobility, tight hips, a curved upper back (hunchback), and internally rotated shoulders. These issues make you more likely to get hurt, in or out of the gym.
We’re going to now show you some drills that will help you stand taller, walk better, lift heavier, and be hotter:
It’s often said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. While it’s not the first thing we think about when talking about bad posture, tight ankles create problems for which the rest of your body has to compensate.
The ankles are the base of any movement; from walking to squatting with a heavy barbell, healthy, mobile ankles are a must.
In order to keep your ankles flexible, try out this ankle mobilization drill: stand at arm’s-length from a wall and place your hands on the wall. Then, bring your left foot to about 2-3 inches from the wall. With your front foot staying completely on the ground, move your knee closer to the wall. If your knee touches the wall, move your front foot back an inch or two. You’ll want to do this about 10 times per leg.
Then, repeat with your right foot.
Next up the kinetic chain are the hips.
The hips and glutes are some of the most powerful muscles in the body. They play a very important role in regard to applying maximal force for a ton movements, including, of all things, the bench press.
The most common hip problem faced by those who sit all day is anterior pelvic tilt, as previously mentioned, which is also referred to as lordosis of the spine.
A quick way to see if you also have a degree of anterior pelvic tilt is to see if your belt buckle is angled downward. If so, your glutes aren’t being engaged–which bad enough for your squat booty–but it’s absolutely terrible for your posture.
To stretch out the hip flexors and engage the glutes, assume a half kneeling position, with both knees bent at 90 degrees. Make sure to drive through the back foot, and squeeze your glutes hard at the top. Make sure to keep your chest tall.
It’s not unusual to see this stretch being done with the top of the rear foot touching the floor, with the shoelaces touching the floor. This shifts the focus of the stretch to the quadriceps, and we want to avoid this by making sure that your driving through the rear foot by keeping your rear foot on the toes, while squeezing your butt cheeks hard. You’ll be cracking walnuts in no time.
You’ll want to hold this stretch for about 15 seconds per leg to start and work your way up to 30-45 seconds. For the last 5 seconds, quickly pump the hips, squeezing hard each time.
Remember, you’re stretching your hips for a few seconds, but you’re sitting at your desk for hours. As such, you’ll want to be mindful of your hip position when standing or walking. And if you suffer from back problems, you might find that strengthening your hips and engaging your glutes makes your back pain feel whole lot better.
As you might remember from this post, the core is more than the visible six pack muscles. Those muscles (rectus abdominus for your anatomy geeks out there) handle flexion, like crunching.
Right under those muscles, however, is the transverse abdominus (TA), whose job it is to brace the lower back before movements of the arm and legs; think of the TA as your internal weightlifting belt. A strong core is also necessary to generate maximal force during heavy lifts, have a healthy and happy back, and to have proper posture.
To do the plank properly, start by assuming a prone position, keeping a straight line from your chest to your ankles. No part of the body should sag or arch. You know you’re doing it right when your body begins to tremble. Hold this position for about 30 seconds to a minute.
If the prone position is too hard, start with a push-up position. Or if it’s too easy, you can do a long-lever plank, which consists of being in a push-up position, but placing your hands by, or even past, your head. Good luck holding this for 30 seconds, and try not to hit the floor with your face.Thoracic Spine and shoulders
Last but not least, we have the thoracic spine. It’s what we automatically think about when we talk about posture. A tall back, chest spread wide open, and shoulders pinned back.
Unfortunately, this is posture eludes many desk jockeys.
In addition to all the other postural problem we’ve talked about so far, people who sit at desks–but especially those who work with computers–deal with another postural problem: kyphosis.
Kyphosis is the dreaded humpback posture. You know the one: head forward (now aggravated by our constant use of mobile phones), upper back rounded, and shoulders rolled forward. As mentioned earlier, the body is a chain, so when there’s a problem with one part of the chain, it starts to affect others, too. This is, in part, why lordosis and kyphosis are often found together.
To address kyphosis, we need to work on thoracic extension.
In this drill, you’ll kneel before a bench, or box (or Zod, but only if you’re the son of Jor-El) and place your elbows on the edge. Then, keeping your spine neutral, you’ll want to drive your head, neck, and upper back between your arms.
You’ll want to hold this stretch for about 15 seconds, and work your way up.
Like the hips, we reinforce kyphosis every time we’re working on a computer. In addition to being mindful while working, make sure to stand up and take breaks throughout the day, and making sure to stand tall, opening up your chest with deep breaths, and keeping your shoulders pinned back as often as possible.
If this sounds a lot like the article we did on dynamic stretching, it’s because it is dynamic stretching. Ideally, you’d want incorporate these moves into your existing daily dynamic warm-up routine.
What’s that? You don’t have a daily dynamic warmup routine? Tsk, tsk, tsk.
Yes, we know it’s easy to skip the warm-up before workouts for any number of reasons. However, if you make it point to start your day with your dynamic warm-up routine, you’ll ensure it’s done and start your day right with a little bit of activity.
Everyday, you’ll stand a little taller, lift a little heavier, and, yes, even by a little hotter.
We now want to hear from you. Do you currently suffer from kyphosis, lordosis, or the dreaded Text Neck? Which of these drills do you think will help you most?
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