Sitting at the desk for too long can cause annoying back & knee pain
Singaporeans work an average of almost 9 hours a day and majority of that time is spent sitting at the desk. Doctors have reported that sitting too long can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. There are also some negative side effects to the fitness side of things – notably your posture and physical performance.
So, we had a chat with Malcolm, Freelance Personal Trainer with a Sports Science Degree from the University of Western Australia, to tell us exactly why sitting at the desk causes problems and teach us some simple exercises that we can do in the Gym Pod to rectify the damage.
Why is Sitting At The Desk Is Bad for Us?
When you are sitting down, you place a lot of pressure on your glutes (AKA your butt). These muscles are being pressed into the chair by the weight of your body and has little room to contract. They become expanded for prolong periods of time. Hence, becoming over-relaxed.
On the other hand, our hipflexors (the muscles that help bring your knee up to your chest), remain in a “shortened” state for the entire duration that we are sitting down. The muscles then become very tight over time.
As I learned from Malcolm, muscles that are very tight or over-relaxed are not very efficient that perform their task of contracting when needed, such as in the case of stabilising our spine and knees.
And, this will eventually cause some knee and back pains that most of us – desk bound workers – tend to face.
Which Muscles Must We Strengthen or Stretch?
Based on the above, we definitely have to strengthen our glutes and lower back muscles. We also have to occasionally activate and stretch our core (the muscles around your mid-section like your abs) because the slouching posture we adopt while sitting will cause those muscles to become shortened and tight over time.
Exercises to stretch the hipflexors, strengthen the chest and thigh muscles will also be beneficial in alleviating the pains caused by sitting at the desk for too long.
WATCH: 5 Simple exercises to fix the damage your desk job does
When should these exercises be performed?
In general, these 5 exercises should be performed at least once a week. If general fitness is your goal, it doesn’t matter whether you perform these exercises before or after your usual routine. For high performers such as endurance athletes, bodybuilders, and powerlifters, these can be placed at the back of your regular routines as accessory work.
Additional Tip to minimise damage from sitting too long at the desk
Place a rolled-up towel under your seat. It forces you to sit up right and maintain proper posture because of the “unstable” surface you are sitting on.
That brings us to the end of this instalment of Health & Fitness Chat with The Gym Pod. I hope you found Malcolm’s recommendations helpful!
If you’re keen on engaging Malcolm as a personal trainer, you can drop him an email at email@example.com or DM him on Instagram at @malcolm.pow.
Till next time, here’s wishing you the best in fitness & health,
CMO, The Gym Pod