Is Sitting Killing Your Running Game?October 21, 2014
Do you find that sitting is cramping your running style? The fact of the matter is sitting causes only some muscles to contract or flex while never allowing the other balancing muscles to do anything. The most common sign of muscle imbalance due to sitting a lot (which is nearly all of us) is weakness or tightness in the following muscle pairs: deep abdominal muscles and hip flexors, buttocks and hips, and hamstrings and quadriceps.
Signs of muscle imbalances can quickly transform into a number of injuries and running performance reducers including, but not limited to:
- Abnormally tight hamstrings and hip flexors which don’t allow for the full range of motion required for an efficient stride.
- Tendonitis of the hip flexors due to tight hip flexors.
- Patellorfemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee) due to the lack of strength of the quadriceps and its inability to track your knee properly. The opposing muscle to the quadriceps is the hamstring which tightens while sitting.
- Weak buttocks and outer hip muscles cause instability in the hips, knees and pelvis which can cause illiotibial band syndrome (IT Band Syndrome) among many other related hip and pelvis injuries.
- Weak abdominal muscles, caused by sitting, allow the pelvis to tilt forward while running and can result in lower back pain and hip flexor tendonitis.
How can you protect yourself from the punishing side effects of sitting?
- Correct Sitting Posture: Correct posture can almost alleviate all muscle imbalance issues caused by sitting. To initiate correct posture, place your monitor at eye level if at all possible. Avoid slouching to engage the abs. Keep your mouse close to your body and your feet comfortably flat on the floor. Also, make sure your chair has a high and straight back rest. Some people also use a physio-ball to achieve good posture.
- Move Around: It’s very important to move around as often as possible. You should move around once every 20 to 30 minutes for at least 3 minutes at a time. Consequently, your legs will be refreshed by the influx of oxygenated blood and you will begin to feel more awake – and this will give your eyes and mind a break, too!
- Exercise Weak or Underused Muscles: Wherever you are most comfortable, do sit-ups, pushups and/or other various core related strength exercises just before lunch or during an extended break.
- Stretch: Stretch out your hamstrings, hip flexors, shoulders, neck and back throughout the day.
The key to avoiding injuries is to keep your muscles balanced! So get up and stretch! (And don’t forget to check out Life+ TV‘s extensive library of stretches & exercises to improve your flexibility, core & strength!)