Office environments and the birth of Hip Dysfunction

Since the advent of the modern day workplace with desk and office chairs, we see more and more people sitting for long periods of time. This has become more apparent with clients having the same old story of tight hips, quadriceps (thighs), hamstrings (back of thighs) and buttocks. I have coined it the ‘lower body atrophy syndrome’, a factor that leads to bad posture and poor movement quality.

The importance of keeping hips and lower limbs (buttocks, quadriceps and hamstrings) active is that it keeps the joints lubricated and muscles oxygenated. The movement of muscles engages and enables you to naturally extend (stretch) and flex (contract) and ultimately promotes better movement quality.

The hips are the foundation of the torso, they stabilises the pelvis and legs, yet very little emphasis is placed on the importance of the hips in exercise and movement. The hips are surrounded by muscles that move in several planes — forward & back (flexors and extensors), from side to side and (abductors, adductors) and opening of the hip (rotators). Sitting for long periods at a time keeps these muscles in a static flexed contraction, therefore shortening and tightening them which can lead to bad posture and dysfunctional movement.

Another problem of the tightening of the hips and lower limbs is lower back pain. The tension on the lower back is caused by the pull of the lower limbs. Everything is interconnected and when muscles become tight that tightness pulls, and in this instance it pulls on the lower back causing back pain.

“…think of them as incidental stretches within your workday”
Basic 5 minutes stretch routine — 3 reps, 15–20 secs holds — twice in a work day — Calf & Quad Stretches
Hamstring & Glut stretches — NB. Always keep your pelvis square

My suggestion is put in place simple and workable stretch routines and incorporate short breaks into your work day. These are some basic stretches you can do at or away from your desk — think of them as incidental stretches within your workday! Get up and go for a walk, have coffee and lunch breaks away from your desk — be active in body and mind during your work day and you will feel better for it!

Yung Ok Yoo is the studio owner of True Pilates Sydney and Principal Instructor teaching Traditional Romana’s Pilates. More information about True Pilates can be found here