One of our Sports Therapists, shares their clinical expertise with us on sitting well …………..
Posture at your desk
We have all read and been informed of how we should sit at our desks. Addressing certain postural positions can help reduce some of the upper body stresses associated with desk work. We cannot avoid the brutal demand placed on our hip flexors whilst sitting.
“Death by desk” is quite a harsh title but it’s a serious problem seen at Five Valleys Clinic on a daily basis. Its ramifications can lead to many muscoskeletal problems which are avoidable.
How can sitting be so harmful? Well, when you sit you place your hip flexors into a shortened position (see image). You have three hip flexors – psoas, iliacus and rectus femoris. These all work together to flex your body. They are the same muscles used when we raise our knees to our chest. These muscles respond to stress placed on them, so sitting for long periods of time allows these muscles to shorten (tighten) as the muscles feel this is the correct thing to do.
Psoas attaches to your lower back and over the pelvis into your groin. Iliacus goes from your pelvis to the same region as psoas. Rectus femoris goes from the bony lump at the front of your pelvis to your patella and into your tibia. Tightness in these structures as seen in the stick man picture directly shows how it can affect your lower back, pelvis and other areas.
This can lead to many problems like lower back pain, knee pain, weak or inhibited glutes. Constantly tight hamstrings and can effect sports performance as well. Recent research suggests you should stretch your hip Flexors for 4 minutes for every 30 minutes when they are in a flexed position (sitting). This will maintain normal tissue length before tightness creeps in. An easy way to help reduce this tightening effect is to ensure you get up and move regularly throughout your day.
As these group of muscles are very emotional to stress they can take time to change to a desired length. Too little stretching and you won’t get the desired effect. Likewise too much stretching and you can anger these structures and they become sore. Recently, from our running clinic, we are seeing lots of chronically weak/inactive glutes in people who have tight hip flexors. It’s no coincidence as many of these clients have jobs or habits which involve not sitting well for long periods. Examples include driving long distances, desk bound or watching their favourite soaps every night etc.
Restoring normal range of motion for your hip flexors can and will have more positive effects on your body. Here at 5 Valleys Clinic we can treat and implement stretching protocols. These help you reach your goal to distinguish pain which may be coming from tight hip flexors.
Don’t be that person with avoidable pain/injury. Get yourself checked out! A therapist will offer you some routine treatment to help with this pandemic of hip flexor tightness.