In Men’s Journal, there’s an article about a competitive distance runner who was getting pain and tightness in his hip flexors, as well as lower back pain, due to long periods of sitting at work. While the article has some good information, it misses some key points.
Here’s my take on this…
I often recommend and write notes for my patients to bring to their job in order for their office to provide them with a standing desk. However, this doesn’t mean they should now completely stand all day at work. It’s imperative they learn how to properly sit and find a comfortable regimen of alternating between sitting and standing.
I find that a key to many health-related topics is doing things in moderation.
Therefore, I recommend alternating sitting and standing every 30-60 minutes. In a past article I wrote (Workplace Ergonomics: Decrease Your Pain While You Sit), I spoke of the proper way to sit in order to minimize harmful effects on your body that can then impede your body’s functional performance, as well as your running performance. Improper sitting, even if you’re alternating sitting with standing at work, can STILL cause negative effects to your body. I encourage you to read that article to learn the best way to position yourself while seated.
Moving onward, even though you are now alternating sitting and standing at work, and are sitting in the most optimal position, you should definitely still walk around every 60-90 minutes (as the article in Men’s Journal touches upon). But I really want to stress that for a competitive athlete, this is NOT enough.
Sure, for your average person it will suffice, but the majority of my patients are athletes or active in sports. The amount your hip extends while walking is nowhere near the amount required to run efficiently. Walking only requires Zero to (approximately) 8º of hip extension, while running requires 10-20º depending on how fast you’re running.
This being said, instead of just walking around the office for 5 minutes every 60-90 minutes, I encourage my athletes to do some deep hip flexor stretching in small amounts, but frequently throughout the day. In a different article I wrote in the past, I compared the effect of stretching aggressively for one minute, 10 times a day, versus stretching once for a 10-minute regimen. EVERY single one of my patients shows significantly more improvement with stretching in small amounts, several times throughout the day.
Again, the Men’s Journal article has some really good information, but my previously mentioned points will help you maximize the information it gave. For even better results to your loosen up your tight hip flexors, I would highly suggest seeing a physical therapist who specializes with athletes, and utilize their abilities in conjunction to your new knowledge of health in the office.
Original Article on Men’s Journal: http://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/health/sitting-the-most-unhealthy-thing-you-do-20150219