Combatting the Perils of Prolonged Sitting: A Solution to Back Pain and Low Energy
Last Friday I had a busy work day. I ended up sitting for almost 10 hours. When I got home at the end of the day, it felt like I had injured my hip playing football.
Of course I hadn’t. I’d just sat all day.
Sitting is the new smoking is not far from the truth in my experience.
If I sit a lot, my back pain comes back and my neck and shoulders get cranky.
If I move every hour, train and sit less these issues disappear.
The most significant challenges that I observe among clients, particularly men over 30 leading busy lives in Limerick and worldwide, include:
- Weight gain
- Poor energy
- Poor posture
- Low back pain
- Depression & anxiety
- Neck & shoulder pain
If you struggle with any of the above, today’s post is going to show you how to sit less, reduce back pain and boost your energy.
Step 1: Use the 2 x 60 rule
I get it. You don’t have time and it’s hard to get to the gym. Instead, just focus on moving for 2 minutes, every 60 minutes you sit.
Consider this: you’re sitting for breakfast, during your daily commute, throughout your workday, and often unwinding by sitting at home.
It’s no surprise you feel fatigued and sore.
Here’s a straightforward rule: for every 60 minutes you’re seated, spend 2 minutes walking.
Step 2: Start an intelligent strength routine
My strength and mobility training is now largely based on keeping my body out of pain and lemur for all the activities I want to do whether it’s hiking, travel, dancing or just feeling comfortable day to day as I navigate the world.
A big mistake I see guys over 30 make with the gym is they prioritize the mirror muscles and neglect the posterior chain completely.
As depicted in this image prolonged sitting causes the front of the body (like the chest, quads, and front of shoulders) to become tense, while the back and glutes weaken and elongate.
When you train the beach muscles – bench press, bicep curls, leg extensions you further tighten these muscles which leads to more injury and pain.
Instead, prioritize movements that strengthen the glute, core and back will get you a much better outcome.
This is a nice tonic workout that will offset all the issues you get from sitting.
- Glute Bridges: Targets glutes and lower back
- Hanging: Beneficial for lats, shoulders, and grip strength
- Dead Bugs: Strengthens the anterior core
- Side Planks: Works on obliques
- Bird Dogs: Enhances glutes and core strength
- Deadlifts (any variation): This misunderstood exercise strengthens the entire posterior chain. It’s essential, though, to learn the correct form from a qualified coach to avoid injuries.
Word’s greatest stretch: Helps open up hip flexors and the chest and shoulders
Incorporating these exercises twice a week, combined with the tips in this post, can significantly alleviate issues related to the shoulder, hip, and lower back.
Step 3: Change Posture throughout the day
This transformed my back pain. If I sit for 8 hours today, I will have an achy back. Now I change my posture throughout the day. I have a standing desk, which I can adjust to sit and then I also sit on the floor and work on my coffee table.
If you have a call – go for a walk, stand or sit on the ground and take it.
Look at Asian cultures who sit on the ground, their incidence of low back pain and other issues are much lower than in the west.
Step 4: Start a 10 minute walk habit
World-renowned coach Stan Efferding recommended this simple yet effective routine on a podcast I recently listened to.
This idea works because it’s simple and sustainable.
Walk for 10 minutes after every meal.
That’s it. Eating becomes the habit cue for you to go for your walk. I set a 5 minute tier on my watch and head out for 5 minutes and then turn around once the time goes off.
Sitting Smart: Overcoming Pain and Discomfort Through Lifestyle Changes
It’s essential to realize that your current pain or discomfort isn’t inevitable.
By making intentional changes to your habits and routines, you can combat issues like back pain, poor posture, low energy, and weight gain.