Every office job is the same – you’re sat down in the same position for eight or nine hours a day with a lunch break squeezed in, during which you’re also in a sedentary position. One of our designers, John, is a great person to work with as he gets us out of our seats and keeps us moving.
To give you some context, John is one of - if not the - fittest of members of the team who not only eats incredibly well but works out often, giving a real ‘my body is my temple’ vibe without being pretentious.
What muscles are affected and how?
Speaking to John, he says, “Muscles are like pliable rubber bands that adapt to the conditions they’re subjected to on a regular basis. When working in an office environment, the muscles most affected due to long periods of sitting are your posterior chain which is made up of the calves, hamstrings, buttocks, back muscles and posterior neck muscles. All of these muscles work in unison to help you stand as well as all sorts of other important movements.
“Many people complain of lower back and neck issues and this is because of how sitting for prolonged periods of time affects the posterior chain muscles.
“When you sit, your hamstrings are in a shortened position. The accumulation of hours sitting causes this muscle to adapt to the regular shortening so they begin to stay more permanently like this, even when you stand. Seeing as they play a large role in the function of the posterior chain, a chain reaction of muscular imbalance can begin when these muscles are no longer in their optimal, neutral form.
“This can cause the other muscles in the chain to pick up the slack of your now shortened hammies. It can lead to weak buttocks and a chronically tight lower back and as more muscles become overly shortened or lengthened in the chain, other issues are allowed to develop as well.”
Okay so how do I avoid these aches and pains?
“Stretches and exercise! It’s amazing how badly affected your body can get over time, so stretching out your muscles is a good way to get your body to avoid that constricting of your muscles and helps avoid future aches and pains.”
What do you recommend?
“Great stretches to include are anything that stretch the legs – especially the hamstrings, buttocks and back, like toe touches, knee to chest when laying on the floor, cat stretches, the cobra pose, sitting spinal twist and triangle pose.
“As for exercises outside of work, squats, deadlifts, rows, glute bridges and kettlebell swings work great to keep the posterior chain in shape.
“Yoga in general is aerobically challenging and it incorporates many movements that can help keep the body's musculature in top shape and mobile while also being low impact to bones and joints.”
Sometimes, John and I quite literally run out of the building and run across the road to a small green where we do our stretching. This gets our heart pumping, blood flowing and gets us away from our work station for a quality five minutes. Surprisingly, when energy levels are crashing, it’s fantastic to do this because this short five-minute burst is enough to get me feeling a little more energetic, improving not only my energy but also my general attitude too!