Sitting is the new bad word when in reality it’s more than just sitting, the problem is also how long we sit and how unprepared our body is. We tend to stay seated for long periods of time which can change muscular tension and cause that tension to accumulate in certain areas. When these unprepared areas are held in one positions for long, continuous hours such as being seated at your desk, your body starts to adapt toward that position causing one to experience reduced range of motion, stiffness and even pain.
When we sit, the back side of the hip gets longer while the front side gets shorter, just as your elbow has one side that shortens and once side that lengthens when it bends. The muscle that gets talked about most often with the topic of sitting is the hamstring, more specifically the hamstring’s upper attachment to the pelvic bone. But it is also important to note that when you sit, generally that upper hamstring / pelvis attachment is actually longer while the hamstring’s other attachment is shorter. If you’re wondering where the other attachment is located, just put you hand behind your bent knee and you’ll be in the right area. The real culprit to hamstring “tightness” due to sitting is the lower hamstring portion, the portion that connects to the back of your knee. The images below show a common protocol to address this issue. Think about this – when standing, a straight leg extends behind the body about 15 degrees, while a knee bends 150-170 degrees. That’s a big range of motion difference and potential.
In short, the area that moves the most, in this case the area where the lower hamstring attaches to the knee, has the most to lose or the most to gain! If you leave out this important connection in your body, you will have a hard time finding true relief from those hours of sitting.