Mobility and flexibility training are essential parts of a healthy lifestyle. Most people have become sedentary for longer periods of time than they were before. This decrease in movement has lead to increased back pain, neck tension, and shoulder aches because muscles are not being stretched or used regularly. In this blog post we will discuss (and simplify) how lower back pain can happen from sitting too long.
Let’s talk about sitting. If you’re already sitting down while reading this, this should be easy to imagine. When you’re seated, your hips are flexed and your legs are in front of you. In this position, your front hip muscles are folded and shortened. If you’re in this position for a long time, they become stiff and tight.
Have you ever seen someone (usually someone older) stand up from a period of sitting? Their posture is usually tipped forward and their back is rounded. They’re basically standing in a seated position!
They might take awhile to get their spines back upright again, and even then, this is usually from compensation in their lower backs rather than unfolding or opening the hip again!
This is also why the lower back gets strained from long periods of sitting and becomes more vulnerable to injury. Since the hip muscles are stiff, it becomes ineffective at providing stability to your pelvis. This instability becomes obvious when you run or do high impact exercises with a stiff and inflexible body since you’re not addressing the root cause (tight hips), putting a lot of strain and causing compensations to happen throughout the body and the lower back.
You know what I’m about to say – you saw the headline before you clicked here. It’s not a secret. Stretching and Mobility training can counter these problems.
If there’s only one thing you’ll take away from this.. please let it be this: You need to stretch those stiff and shortened hip muscles.
It’s not (just) about the strengthening the back. It’s not (just) about planks or core exercises. Because I’ve seen people do planks with tight hips and their tight hip flexors follow them wherever they go so they end up feeling work in their thighs and not in their core.
Fix the tight hips first. And then the rest can follow.
Pilates is great, low impact, it stretches and strengthens. But you know this already so I’m going to throw in a freebie for those of you unwilling to go to a Pilates studio: Walk, and take big strides to open that hip up. Just don’t land too heavily on your heels when you’re doing this.. that unearths other problems.
Walking is a simple yet effective way to get up and walk around during your workday break. You’ll feel better and it’ll help you get more focused in front of your desk.
If you spend most of the day sitting, you need to be more intentional about incorporating movement into your day. If we’re not mindful of our sitting habits – then chronic pain will continue.
Mobility training is not just important for athletes but for everyone who wants to live a pain-free life. Flexibility and mobility training will help you to maintain good form while doing activities, decreased risk of injury (especially during high impact movements) and get stronger because your muscles will be able to be more efficient! But that’s another topic for another time.
Just.. move to remove the obstacles that are in your way of a healthy spine and body. It’s really.. that simple.