Have you ever stood up after a long day at work and felt like your legs were sore? When you perform everyday activities, such as walking your dog, doing the dishes, or vacuuming the floor, do you experience pain in your hips and lower back? If so, you are not the only one. Your daily habits and work rituals may be causing your chronic back or hip pain. Sitting down for long periods causes tightness in the hip flexors and hamstrings, which can make it extremely difficult to walk or even stand.

What are the Hip Flexors?

The hip flexors are the group of muscles that pull your hip and leg bones together. They allow you to lift your legs towards your torso, and vice versa. When you sit down, your hip flexors deactivate in an unnatural position. Staying in this position for too long will cause them to shrink and become tight, leading to pain in the lower back and hips.

Just like other muscles in the body, when your hip flexors tighten, it affects other functions as well. Hip flexor tightness can cause a limited range of motion and even lead to injury. Because your hip flexors work hand in hand with your joints, long term tightness in the hip flexors can lead to chronic joint pain and arthritis. Hip flexor tightness doesn’t affect just your hip joints. Often your knees or back will overcompensate for weakness or tightness in the hip flexors, which will cause strain on the knees and lumbar spine. With other areas overcompensating due to tightness in the hip flexors comes an imbalance, which can easily lead to injury.

Hip Flexor Injuries

Getting a hip flexor injury is much more likely if they are weakened or tight. Health care professionals recommend regular exercise and stretching of the hip flexor muscles to prevent damage. They also advocate strengthening the core and glute muscles to keep all of the work off of the hip flexors. Daily exercise and stretching help to achieve this. Still, when schedules are tight, it can be challenging to find the time to exercise every day.

When you try to work out or stretch hip flexor muscles that are already weak and tight, you are at a much higher risk of hurting yourself. If you have been living a sedentary lifestyle for a long time, there is even more of a threat. You may fall at random or get hurt doing simple tasks such as standing or walking. Additionally, you may undo all of the work you’ve just done through exercise and stretching by spending 8 hours a day sitting at a desk.

Other Potential Health Risks

When you’re sitting hunched over a desk that is the wrong height for you, there are more potential issues than tight hip flexors. Sitting for long periods can affect your mental health, spinal alignment, and even bowel function. Studies show that sitting all day every day can cause joint problems, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. The most natural posture for our bodies is standing upright. Standing increases blood flow, decreases joint stress, and even increases productivity.

Stand, Don’t Sit

Professionals say that the best way to stay healthy and prevent injury is to keep all of your muscles healthy and working together. When speaking specifically about the legs, the best way to do that is to stand up. Instead of continually tightening and then stretching your hip flexors, it would be more useful to keep them from tightening up in the first place. When you stand up, not only are your hip flexors engaged in a natural position, but the rest of the muscles in your legs are involved as well. Standing at your desk every day instead of sitting down will strengthen your muscles in your body’s most natural position. Standing up will increase support for everyday activities such as walking your dog or playing catch with your child. It will also keep you from being at a higher risk for long term health issues.

How We Can Help

I don’t have to tell you that standing while working at a regular-height desk is extremely difficult. Stacking your laptop on a pile of books, or hunching over your desk is less than ideal. LifeDesk SmartLegs are easily adjusted to your height, whether you’re seated or standing—no hunching or book stacking necessary.

Taking care of your physical health is extremely important. One of the best first steps to taking care of your body is to invest in the daily practice of standing while working. By adding SmartLegs to your desk, you are making an investment in your health that will have long term benefits.

References

Department of Health & Human Services. “The Dangers of Sitting: Why Sitting Is the New Smoking.” Better Health Channel, Department of Health & Human Services, 10 Aug. 2016, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/the-dangers-of-sitting.

Castaneda, Ruben, and Anna Medaris Miller. “The Benefits of Using a Standing Desk.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/the-benefits-of-using-a-standing-desk.

Logan, Earle. “Are Tight Hip Flexors Ruining Your Posture and Causing Low Back Pain?” Are Tight Hip Flexors Ruining Your Posture and Causing Lower Back Pain?, 13 Mar. 2020, www.avogel.co.uk/health/muscles-joints/joint-pain/hip-pain/are-tight-hip-flexors-ruining-your-posture-and-causing-low-back-pain/.

Shmerling, Robert H. “The Truth behind Standing Desks.” Harvard Health Blog, 15 Aug. 2019, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-truth-behind-standing-desks-2016092310264.

Quinn, Elizabeth. “Overview of Hip Flexor Muscles and Injuries.” Verywell Health, Verywell Health, 15 Aug. 2019, www.verywellhealth.com/the-hip-flexors-definition-3120388.