Many of us lead a sedentary life, which essentially translates to not moving too much and a lot of staying seated – whether at the office, at home or anywhere in between.
When you sit for long periods, you may experience tightness and pain in your hips when you move around. Don’t worry – it’s not because of age. In short, sitting for too long stresses some muscles and weakens others, which in turn puts pressures on nerves and causes hip pain.
If you are struggling with hip pain from being in a seated position for too long, read on further to understand the cause of the issue and for some useful tips on hip pain management.
How Prolonged Sitting Affects Your Hip Joint
Let’s start with a basic understanding of the hip joint. It’s a ball and socket joint where your thigh bone (femur) meets your pelvis.
This joint is surrounded and stabilised by a protective layer of cartilage and a network of ligaments, tendons, and muscles. They work together to allow you to move your leg in all directions. But, as sturdy as your hip joint is, it doesn’t do well with constant sitting.
When we sit for too long, our hip flexor muscles stay bent and tightened. At the same time, our hamstrings and glutes, which are key for supporting our hips, don’t get used much and begin to weaken. This leads to an imbalance in our muscles, making our hips less stable and possibly leading to pain in our hips and lower back.
Furthermore, sitting for extended periods can slow down blood flow to our hips, making them stiff. Over time, poor sitting posture can reduce hip stability and abdominal strength.
Easy Steps for a Comfortable Seating Posture
Managing your hip pain can be a daily struggle, but the solution often lies in something as simple as how we sit. Let’s explore some standard adjustments that can help with hip discomfort – some of which you can do right now:
- Chair Height: Make sure your chair is adjusted so that your thighs are level with the ground. If you’re still not comfortable, lower the chair slightly so your knees are just below hip level. This will help open up the hip joint.
- Leg Position: Crossing your legs makes your pelvis uneven and compresses the hip, so keep them uncrossed.
- Foot Placement: Place your feet flat on the floor. They’re key to keeping you steady and balanced.
- Back Support: Choose a chair with good lumbar support to keep your lower back comfortable.
- Sitting Deep: Sit all the way back in your chair. This position supports your posture and makes it easier for you to sit up straight.
- Shoulder Check: Rest your shoulder blades against the back of the chair. Keeping them there will help prevent you from hunching over towards your screen, avoiding hip compression and neck and shoulder pain.
- Elbow and Wrist Alignment: Keep your elbows at a right angle and your shoulders relaxed. This helps keep your wrists in a comfortable position in front of the keyboard, especially when you’re typing.
- Eye Level: Adjust your monitor so the top is level with or slightly below your eye line. This small change can really help your neck and shoulders.
Embracing Standing Desks
Have you ever thought about the magic a standing desk could do for your workspace? By switching to a standing desk, you’re giving your body a break from the relentless sitting that characterises most of our workdays. This change is a breath of fresh air for your hips, which often bear the brunt of prolonged sitting.
What makes a standing desk so special is its impact on your overall posture. When you stand, your spine aligns more naturally, helping to ease those niggling back and neck aches. It’s not just about physical health, either – standing while working can invigorate your mind, keeping you alert and boosting your focus!
Don’t Sink into the Sofa
Given how common it is to work from home now, many people may end up working on the sofa. However, a too-soft couch can throw your hips and knees out of alignment, especially if you sink so far into the cushions that your knees are above your hips.
If you plan to make the sofa your base of operations, opt for a firmer seat that supports your hips and knees in a neutral position. Remember, your home should be a place of rest and rejuvenation for your body, just like your well-set-up workspace.
Stretch and Strengthen Your Way to Comfort
Stretching and strengthening exercises can be essential to hip pain management, especially from prolonged sitting. Here are some that you can try
This stretch is useful for easing tight glutes, a common cause of hip discomfort. It enhances hip flexibility and helps to reduce tension in the lower back.
Particularly helpful for those who sit a lot, this stretch aims to loosen the hamstrings. It assists in maintaining hip alignment and improves flexibility, thereby reducing the likelihood of hip pain.
Focusing on the psoas muscle, this stretch is essential for hip and lower back health because it promotes better hip movement and overall flexibility.
Clams are an uncomplicated exercise that strengthens the hip abductors, important for pelvic stability. They contribute to better hip alignment and can alleviate stress on the lower back and knees.
Beneficial for the entire hip area, bridges strengthen the glutes and lower back muscles. This exercise is key for improving hip stability and support, which can help in managing and preventing hip discomfort.
Find Your Path to Hip Pain Relief at Healing Hands Osteopathy
At Healing Hands Osteopathy, we don’t just offer temporary fixes; we strive to understand your unique situation and lifestyle to offer long-term solutions. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to providing personalised care that targets the root cause of your hip pain. Whether it’s through hands-on treatments or expert advice, we’re here to support your journey towards a pain-free life.