How Your Desk Is Damaging You
Postural Effects of Desk Sitting
The postural effects of your desk job fall into two broad categories:
Lower Crossed Syndrome / Anterior Pelvic Tilt
- Shortened/tight hip flexors
- Inhibited/weak glutes
- Shortened/tight erector spinae (low back)
- Inhibited/weak abdominals
When you sit with your hips in a flexed position for more than 1/3 of your day, your hip flexors gradually lose the ability to extend fully. On the other hand, your glutes are quite stretched when you sit (not to mention squooshed). Also at work here is the concept of reciprocal inhibition, in which the antagonist (opposite) of a tight muscle becomes weakened. In this case, we see over-tight hip flexors resulting in inhibited glutes. Combine all that, and you’ll eventually lose the ability to effectively extend the hip.
Your lower back muscles, forced to contract continually to support the weight of your forward leaning torso, also become overactive and tighten. On the opposite side, your abdominals become inhibited, again due to reciprocal inhibition.
The practical result of these changes is an altered pelvic tilt. Think of your pelvis as a bowl. Your tight hip flexors pull the front lip of the bowl downward, and your tight erector spinae pull the rear lip of the bowl upward – these two actions result in an anterior tilt of the pelvis which your inhibited glutes and abs are unable to counteract.
Upper Crossed Syndrome
- Shortened Shoulder Internal Rotators (pecs, lats)
- Inhibited/weak shoulder external rotators
- Shortened, overactive upper traps
- Inhibited/weak lower traps
- Inhibited/weak cervical (neck) flexors
Metabolic Effects of Desk Sitting
- Reduced metabolic rate (fewer calories burned)
- Decreased fat-burning enzymes
- Decreased insulin sensitivity
- Decreased HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- Increases risk of death (in general) up to 40%
Scary enough for you?
In our next episode, we’ll start tackling how to deal with these problems and combat your desk.