A major trend in the health and fitness world in the last year or so has been the serious, negative side effects to sitting. Among these side effects, according to the Mayo Clinic, is an increase in risk of diabetes, as well as obesity and a nearly 50% increase in the risk of dying from any cause, and over 100% increase in risk of cardiovascular disease. Clearly, we should all be taking a moment to move more frequently and reduce our sitting throughout the day. Even as a gym owner, I try to make a point of standing while working on my computer, and continuing to stay on my feet at least for 5-10 minutes per hour.
Besides the very serious health issues associated with sitting, being behind a desk, hunched over all day, can also take a toll on the efficacy and quality of your personal fitness. When you come into a CrossFit class, personal training appointment, or any other offering at Summit Strength after sitting all day, there are a couple problems.
- Your glutes are not “turned on” and therefore cannot fire during the workout, thereby making the exercises more difficult to perform safely and effectively.
- Your thoracic spine is tight making any overhead movements such as the olympic lifts, kettlebell snatches or swings, and overhead press more difficult and less safe.
Thankfully, there are multiple activities which can at least help reduce the effects of sitting before starting a workout.
- Couch Stretch: the couch stretch is really a hybrid between the forward lunge hip flexor stretch, and a standard quad stretch. To do the movement, find a wall (or couch, hence the name) and do a half kneel in front of the wall. Lift your back foot until it is flat against the wall, and then lean back until your butt touches your foot. Hold this at least 1 minute per side.
- Mad Cat – Fat Cat: This is also called Cat – Cow, among many other names. To do it, go onto your hands and knees, with a neutral spine. When you inhale, lift your head, and arch your back so your stomach goes to the floor. This is the “Fat Cat” position. Hold this for a full inhale. On the exhale, reverse the movement by tucking your chin to your chest and arching your back high, like a “Mad Cat.” Continue alternating back and forth, following your breathing, for at least 10 full inhales and 10 full exhales.
I definitely recommend looking up videos on these on YouTube to help you understand better how to do these movements.