- Shortened psoas (hip flexors) from constantly being bent 90ish degrees at the hip while sitting. Keeps you pulled forward when you stand and causes exaggerated arch in the back when laying on your back.
- Crappy hip abductors like the TFL, again from sitting. Causes gait, knee, hip, and back problems over time.
- Tight hamstrings. Common contributor to knee and back issues.
- Overactive quadratus lumborum to compensate for your forward lean. Leads to back pain, hip hiking, various gait issues.
- Inactive gluteus maximus from sitting with it disengaged for years, overactive quads to compensate. Further contributes to gait issues and anterior pelvic tilt. Commonly leads to knee and back pain, sometimes hip issues.
- Inactive gluteus medius again contributes to back pain, knee issues, hip issues.
It’s all from sitting for the majority of your waking hours for years on end. Your posterior chain lags way behind your anterior muscles and you end up with an imbalanced system. Eventually it leads to pain and limited movement as your body compensates for the weak muscles and tries to put the overactive ones in positions of mechanical advantage by altering your posture to shorten the travel on those muscles, reducing workload. Once you get into your 30s and beyond or if you put it under high stress by lifting weights things start breaking.
Your upper body tends to develop a similar anterior bias from driving and using keyboard/mouse for several hours per day. You’ll see people with protracted shoulders, winged scapula, excessive kyphosis in the neck and upper back. All of that stuff will come back to bite you in the ass as you age or if you put it under stress with athletic activity or weightlifting.
The time investment to correct decades of mistreating your body and poor posture is not small. Stretching your hamstrings alone isn’t going to cut it. You really need to be investing several hours a week in stretching anterior muscles and strengthening posterior or these issues will continue to haunt you and get worse over time.
The first thing you have to do is dramatically reduce the time you spend sitting, by at least 50%, cutting it down by 75-80% is ideal. Generally requires a serious change in how you work since most people sit all day. An equal mixture of standing, walking around, and sitting is generally best. Too much of any particular one tends to cause issues.
Strengthening exercises to include right away, 3-4 days a week for 3 sets each:
- Glute bridges
- Side bridges
- Side-lying hip abduction, eventually with a band for resistance
- Facepulls, focus on pulling your scapula together and down, don’t raise your shoulders up toward your ears, pull them down and back.
There are many more that are useful, but those are the key for getting started.
Stretches should be done throughout the day, at least 2 sessions per day with 2 minutes spent on each stretch. If you want to see dramatic changes you really need to increase the sessions per day up to 4 or 5. The time commitment is no joke, but the results will be real.
- Couch/Psoas Stretch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfswfLuW_tI
- Quadratus Lumborum Stretch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NlugMEihG8
- Anterior Shoulder/Chest stretch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSXiS96KA80
- Sitting Toe Touch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpRZiu76skg Actually touching your toes is not the important thing, you want to hinge forward at the HIP and you want to resist bending in the lower back, keep your lower back neutral. Bending forward in the upper back a bit is fine.
Again, there are many more stretches that are useful in correcting these issues, but these are the main ones you need to get started.