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In Pelvis 101, I discussed some of the basics behind why the pelvis is an area of critical importance for runners. In summary, the pelvis/hips play a main role in your gait. If this area is not moving adequately, off kilter if you will, your gait will be negatively impacted. You might even end up with a Functional Short Leg (explanation in Pelvis 101), which means every surface you’re running/walking is canted because you, yourself are uneven.
These all could definitely be an influence, however, the activity having the most influence over the pelvis/hips is something most people do everyday, all day long! What is it?
Sitting!! Sitting, by far, is the worst “activity” people do for hours on end everyday! It not only negatively impacts the mechanics of the pelvis/hips (how it moves), but have major systemic influence!
Research is suggesting sitting for hours on a regular basis will increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and more!
The human body was not meant to be static for hours. We were meant to be very dynamic.
Let’s talk impact on your joints. Joints do not have a direct blood supply to carry the nutrition they need to them while removing waste products the joints continuously make away.
Instead, our joints get their nutrition through a process known as imbibition. In other words, joints require movement to get their nutrition and have their waste products removed.
Think of the cartilage in your joints as sponges. First important detail of having healthy joints is proper hydration. We all know a person needs to drink about half their body weight in ounces per day to stay hydrated.
It’s been said the body prioritizes hydration. Muscles first, then organs and then joints.
If this is true, it would mean if you’re not drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water, you’re joints are not receiving adequate hydration.
How pliable is a dry sponge? Not at all, right? It may even be brittle.
Second aspect to keeping joints healthy is motion. Think about it. Take a sponge and throw it in a sink of water. What happens? It soaks up as much water as it can.
The issue though, there is no exchange of the water between the sponge and the water in the sink. How would you get this to happen? You have to squeeze the sponge. This flushes out the water in the sponge and allows it to soak up fresh water from the sink.
Essentially, this is what happens in our joints and cartilage. When you sit for any length of time, this is not happening even though the joints are still producing waste products.
In essence, they’re becoming like stagnant ponds.
How healthy does that sound? So many people complain about being stiff. My patients who have increased their water consumption (ideally decreasing their sugar and caffeine consumption, which both dehydrate the body) and worked on moving more have noticed their stiffness dramatically decreases.
Sitting not only can harm the joints, but after a while, will shift the pelvis/hips. For simplicity sake, with this “shift” the motion of the pelvis/hips has been altered, restricted. Remember, if this happens, more than likely you now have a functional short leg, which means you’re uneven and every surface you’re walking on is canted.
So many people have desk jobs anymore thanks to advances in technology. Yet the way the human body was designed and how it’s meant to function has not changed or adapted to these new ways of life.
Through my clinical experience, my toughest patients are those who are on a lot of medication, poor diets, sit all day at work and are sedentary. Trying to get any improvements in their pain levels, much less alone they’re overall health is very difficult.
In contrast, my easiest cases are my patients who lead very active lifestyles (even if they have a desk job), eat clean and no medications.
All forms of sitting are not equal.
My patients who have desk jobs are not the worst. The patients who commute long distance for work, or spend most of their day in the cars are even worse in their presentations.
However, my patients who travel on planes for work are by far the worst. What does this mean? We all know that chairs are not created equally. Some people have the benefit of being able to be evaluated by the ergonomics department and are “fitted” for a proper work station. This is not an option in a vehicle or on a plane. What should you do if this is your lifestyle? Something you could do right now to start decreasing the negative influence of sitting is to start moving more! If you’re hydrating enough, you should have to get up away from your desk at least once per hour.
Next week’s blog will cover easy fixes and tools that can be used daily to keep this important variable from impacting your run. A little hint, the most ergonomic chair is not the answer!