Sunday, 11 September 2011

A product of your environment?

When we exercise, our body will adapt to the stress we put it under. However, this doesn't just refer to the gym. Our body will adapt to everything we do in our day. The reason I bring this up is due to the amount of time that people 'sit' during the day.

It is not uncommon to drive to the station, sit on the train, sit at the desk for 8 hours, take the train and car back home to then sit in front of the T.V.

Constant sitting has an adverse affect on certain muscle groups. This can be the reason for many aches and pains.

Immediately you can see the affect this has on the spin. The muscles it will affect include:
  • Hips - with your knees and hips bent at 90 degrees, the hips will get extremely tight. The hip flexor muscles (if over-tight) can lead to back pain due to tilting the pelvis in the wrong direction.
  • Glutes - Your bum muscles are one of the largest muscles groups and potentialy one of the most powerful. If you sit on them all day, they won't be. Weak bum muscles often lead to a weak back due to lack of support. If the bum muscles aren't strong, the back may take the strain when lifting and exercising.
  • Lower back - As you round your lower back, it will stretch and relax. All the time it is relaxed and is out of use, it will get weaker. This will expose you to more lower back problems.
  • Middle/upper back - Rounded shoulders can cause problems in your shoulders and neck.
  • Neck - As your back rounds your head comes forward (especially if the screen is not in the best position). For every inch your head moves forward and adapts to being in this position, your head will exert an extra 7kgs (1 stone) on your cervical spine. A scary fact.

All is not lost! The gym can reverse this. The following exercises will help you get fit, strong and lean but also work the muscles that get neglected and weak due to too much sitting!

Glutes - Aim for bodyweight or weighted lunges, squats, step-ups, deadlifts, fitball bum raises, running, or the summit trainer.

Lower back - Deadlifts, Back extensions, squats, hyperextensions

Middle back - Lat pulldown, rows (dumbell, cable, machine), face pulls, cobras, deadlifts (again), farmers walks.

You should also stretch muscles that get over-tight. These include the chest, upper back, abs and hips.

You can't expect to sit at your desk all day and then at weekends wonder why your back hurts when you do the gardening, housework, play sport. This isn't the case for everyone but I hear this alot.
Why not see a gym instructor for a programme including all the above exercises and stretches for the tight areas. Get strong in these areas and avoid turning into a product of your environment!


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