How to make small changes to your sitting routine
How to transition from sitting to standing?
If you have followed our posts since the launch of our Sitting Awareness Campaign, you will be familiar with the health risks associated with sitting too much. Today we are going to discuss an action plan for how to safely transition from sitting all day to standing more often.
As you may be aware, the posture of sitting tightens our hip flexor muscles, our calf muscles, our pectoralis muscles, our abdominal muscles and our neck muscles. So, if you have been sitting for a few years it would be wise to gently ease into things by addressing these imbalances instead of jumping 100% into a standing/walking regime.
Alternatively, if you’re not at a point where you’re transitioning to a sit-stand desk then you can use the following tips for ‘microbreaks’ during your workday. ‘Microbreaks’ are typically short little 2-4 minute breaks for every 20 minutes of sitting. These ‘microbreaks’ help to activate your postural muscles that tend to ‘switch off’ after 20 minutes of a prolonged posture and to help prevent ‘ligamentous creep’ which essentially means damage to your joints and ligaments.
Four stretches to ease the transition to standing and walking (please note – if you have difficulty with any of these stretches we will happily show you how to do them during your next visit to the office):
- Calf Stretches: set a tightly rolled up, firm towel on the floor and place the front of your foot on the roll while keeping your heel on the floor. With your other foot slowly step forward while keeping your initial heel on the ground. Stand tall. You should feel a stretch in your calf muscle of the leg on the towel. Hold for 30 seconds then switch sides.
- Lunge hip flexor stretch: holding a wall for balance, lunge one foot forward and keep a slight bend in the knee. With the back leg, push the foot back so that your toes are bent and you’re pushing your heel back while straightening your back knee. You should feel a stretch in the front of your hip of the back leg. Hold for 30 seconds then switch sides.
- Arm reach (to be avoided if you have shoulder impingement): stand up nice and tall and reach both arms overhead. Keeping both arms up reach one hand and the fingertips even further, as far as you can to the ceiling, hold for 3 seconds then reach the other hand as high as you can to the ceiling and hold for 3 seconds. You should feel a stretch along the whole side of your torso of the arm that you’re reaching up high. Repeat 2-3 times then gently lower your arms to your side.
- Pec/arm stretch: Again, standing tall with your head held high and arms by your side, slowly extend your hands and fingers back as though you’re trying to touch your fingertips together behind your back. Keep your shoulders down. Inhale and exhale three deep breaths.
There you go, only 4 minutes of stretching and you should feel refreshed and ‘taller’!
Additional tips to ease the transition:
- Anti-fatigue mats: these are squishy mats that can help standing on a hard, flat surface easier for your body.
- Tennis ball to roll your under feet during the day: your feet are made with many little bones and muscles and nerves and they like to be kept mobile and supple instead of tight and rigid. If you get a chance, pop off your shoes and roll out your feet!
- Standing block: find a little block of wood or a yoga block and alternate having one foot up on the block throughout the day.
Don’t forget to fill in a ballot for the Sit-to-Stand Varidesk when you come in!
Yours in health,
Dr. Catherine Carter, DC