Sitting and the Spine

If there’s something we’re all doing too much of right now it’s sitting. I know you might be thinking to yourself, “Hey, I work out every day.” That’s great. Do you still spend roughly 5-6 hours every day sitting down and maybe 1-2 hours working out? If that’s the case you can see how sitting is still winning 3 to 1 in some cases. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of these people who is going to tell you sitting is the new smoking. It’s FAR from being anywhere near as harmful. However, I am going to let you know just exactly what’s going on with your anatomy and the consequences of spending so much time on your behind. 

The first thing is that human beings and the human body are masters of adaptation. What I mean by that is whatever you consistently give the body it will get better at. This is both a gift and a curse. Sure, if you spend every day lifting weights and running, your body is going to provide a certain physique to accommodate these stressors. You may put on more muscle and cut some body fat. On the other end of the spectrum though, if you spend a good amount of time sitting down, then you’re going to get really good at just sitting down. You can see how this might be problematic if you have to suddenly do something physical. Do you think you would be ready to lift something heavy off the ground after spending 5 hours in the car on a road trip? No and this is why people tend to throw their backs out from doing just that. 

The consequences of spending so much time sitting down really all end up impacting your spine. First, your hip flexors get REALLY short. This is the musculature on the front of your hip. Essentially right next to where your belt buckle would go. These muscles are in charge of closing the hip BUT proper range of motion in them allows you to EXTEND the hip completely without having to bias the low back. IF they are short, then you’ll still find a way to stand up straight but that comes at the cost of you hyper extending your low back. Think of it like someone pinching the area next to your belt buckle and while they’re doing that, you have to stand up straight. 

The result of this is your ab and glute muscles shutting off. Now, when this happens, all hell breaks loose on your low back. Any little thing can cause your low back to spasm or strain itself. Imagine going into the gym and trying to deadlift or squat with your low back in this compromised position. Not gonna go well. 

The low back is really only as healthy as your glutes, abs, and hip flexors are. This is why, in CrossFit, when we refer to core exercises, we really talk about doing things that force you to engage ALL those muscles to apply force. For example, the overhead squat. There’s no way you can adequately perform an overhead squat if any one of these areas is compensating for another. You’ll feel it immediately in the low back. 

You can sit but it’s important to combat it with random periods of standing, squatting and getting the hip in extension. Set alarms to let you know when you’ve spent more than 30 minutes sitting down and be  sure to get up and walk around or even stretch if possible.


To learn more about how you can get fit, even from the comfort of your own home while gyms are closed and beyond, email us at or connect with us here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *