How to Undo the Damage of Sitting

The modern workplace is not what it used to be. The days of sitting on the front porch reading the paper are over. Today, if you’re lucky enough to have a job that allows for short breaks throughout your work day, more people are turning away from traditional means of relaxation and opting for something different altogether: exercise! However, thanks to our sedentary lifestyle’s toll on our health, even those who attempt this may find themselves back in their seats before long…

The “how to reverse sitting disease” is a blog post that discusses how sitting can have negative effects on the body. The article provides tips on how to avoid this problem.

You probably spend a substantial portion of your day sitting down if you’re like most males who live and work in a techno-service economy. You travel from the kitchen table to your office desk to your TV-watching recliner. However, as we’ve already covered, spending the majority of your waking hours on your keister is bad for your health.

You’ve definitely had those times when you get out of a chair and your buttocks are numb and your hips are so tight that you have to hunch forward at the waist merely to walk. Sitting for long periods of time makes your hips and legs stiff and your glutes inactive. Even when you get up, the negative consequences of sitting might linger, preventing your butt muscles from firing at their peak when you need them most – as when you need to track down a handbag thief!

Some fitness gurus believe that sitting leads hip muscles to physically shorten (and remain short) even after you get up. While there are no scientific studies to support that notion, sitting for long periods of time does make things feel tight in the groin/butt region in my experience.

Tight hips and inactive glutes may hinder physical performance in a range of tasks, including sprinting, squatting, and — my personal favorite — deadlifting, if you’re an athlete (or imagine yourself one). If you want to perform at your best, make sure your hips are flexible and your butt muscles are firing on all cylinders. Even if you don’t want to deadlift 600 pounds (though I hope to persuade you otherwise someday), maintaining your hip flexors open and your glutes engaged may help you in other ways.

To begin with, having loose hips just feels nice. Second, having a good range of motion in your hips might help you avoid injury whether you engage in more leisure physical activities or do home duties. Flexible hips, for example, keep your IT band loose, which may help prevent knee discomfort. Finally, caring for your hips may help you improve your posture, which can help you avoid back or neck problems. (Not to mention the importance of having supple hips for a good mambo.)

We’ve included some basic stretches and exercises below to help you heal the damage that sitting has done to your hips and buttocks.

The Best Remedy Is Prevention: Sit Less and Move More

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as the proverb goes. Sitting less and moving more throughout the day is the greatest thing you can do for your hip mobility and glute activation.

If your boss permits it, consider utilizing a standing desk, which keeps your muscles active while you’re at work. Remember that, like sitting, standing should be done in moderation (and doing it for a lengthy amount of time isn’t good either).


If you don’t have access to a standing desk, take five-minute breaks from sitting every 30 to 45 minutes. Get up and take a few steps around the room. Perhaps try a couple of the exercises listed below. Even if you have a standing desk, you should get up and walk about every now and again.

Hips Should Be Stretched

These dynamic stretches and exercises are intended to release stiff hips caused by excessive sitting. I try to include a couple of them in my regular exercise warm-ups or sneak some in while I’m with the kids (who think their dad is pretty odd). I also set out an hour on Saturdays to focus only on hip and glute training, as well as some serious foam rolling.

If you’re on a limited budget, go easy on yourself. “Don’t go into the pain cave,” warns physical therapist Kelly Starrett. “Your animal totem will not be able to assist you.”

Swinging Legs

Men doing exercise of leg swings illustration. This is a fantastic dynamic stretch that I do before to every exercise. The hips, hamstrings, and glutes are all loosening up.

Begin by swinging your legs forward. For balance, find something to grip. Begin by swinging your right leg back and forth as high and as far back as you are comfortable with. After 20 swings, swap legs.

Swings from side to side are next. Find something to grip for balance once again. Swing your right leg out to the side as far as you can, then in front of you as far as you can towards your left. Perform 20 swings before changing legs. You could need another set depending on how tight you feel.

Squat Grok

Man doing grok squat exercise illustration. The Grok Squat is quite similar to a baseball catcher’s posture. Squat till your buttocks are in contact with your ankles. Keep your back straight and your heels firmly on the ground. For 30-60 seconds, stay in that posture. Your hamstrings, quadriceps, Achilles tendons, lower back, and groin should all be gently stretched. It may take a few days of work to descend into a complete squat if you’re quite stiff. Keep going. Your back and hips will appreciate it.

Squeeze in a few quick squats workouts throughout the day.

Pose of a Table Pigeon

Men doing table pigeon pose exercise illustration. The pigeon stance is certainly recognizable to everyone who has done yoga. This stretch is similar to the last one, only you do it on a table, which makes it a little simpler to do and enables you to stretch your muscles from various angles. Begin by putting your leg on a tabletop (or your bed) with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. For support, place one hand on the table and the other on your foot. Lean forward for 60-90 seconds and hold. Then, lean to the left at 10 o’clock and hold for 60-90 seconds. Lean to the right at 2 o’clock and hold for 60-90 seconds. Rep with the other leg.

If you have knee difficulties, turn your body such that your ankle falls off the table and a cushion is placed under your knee. Make it a goal to execute two pigeon postures every day (I personally do one during my workout and another at a random time).


Stretching on the Couch

Man doing couch stretch exercise illustration. This section is quite difficult. I wasn’t aware of how stiff I was until I attempted the sofa stretch. It’s essentially a quad stretch cranked up a notch. According to Starrett, this will reverse years of sitting.

This stretch doesn’t need the use of a sofa; it just makes it more pleasant (if that’s possible). You may also perform it on the floor by leaning on a wall with your knees.

Place the knee of the leg you’re extending against the back of your couch for a “easier” variation. Place your other leg’s foot on the floor. Raise your torso gradually to a neutral spine posture (i.e. standing straight and tall). Squeeze your buttocks and abs as you elevate your body. Hold the position for four minutes at a time. Switch to the other leg and repeat. Things should stretch out a lot in your hip flexor region if you don’t push yourself too much.

Bring your non-stretching leg up onto the sofa seat to boost the ante. Squeeze the buttocks and abs while maintaining a straight, neutral spine. Work your way up to four minutes in this posture. Keep in mind that getting your torso to a straight posture may take some time. I could only lift my body to a 45-degree angle when I first began performing this stretch the “hard way,” and I had to support myself with my hand on the floor. After two weeks of devoted stretching, I was finally able to shift to a straight posture. My hip mobility had (and continues to have) a substantial difference.

This stretch is so beneficial that I try to practice it every day, sometimes before a workout and sometimes as Gus watches Paw Patrol.

Activate the Glutes in Your Body

Bridges made of barbells

Man doing barbell bridge exercise illustration.

Another exercise that makes you look silly but benefits your glutes and hips is this one. It’s been a fantastic deadlift support exercise.

Kneel down on the ground with your feet flat on the floor. Grab a padded barbell with an overhand grip approximately shoulder-width apart and place it across your hips. Raise your waist off the ground and squeeze your glutes until your hips are in line with the rest of your body. Return to the beginning position and repeat three times for a total of three sets of ten repetitions.

Make it a point to complete this exercise once or twice a week. As you gain strength, you may add more weight. Try unweighted bridges if you can’t perform it with the barbell’s weight.


You should be aware that practicing this exercise will make you feel a little stupid. It is, nonetheless, one of the finest exercises for glute activation. If you’re self-conscious about it, do it at home before going to the gym so no one notices.

Man doing clam shell exercise.

With your hips and knees bent at 45 degrees, lie on your right side. Yes, you’ll resemble a middle school girl at a slumber party discussing her crushes. Don’t be concerned. Later on, your deadlift will thank you.


Man doing clam shell exercise illustration.

Raise your upper knee as high as you can without shifting your pelvis while keeping your feet together. Allowing your lower leg to move off the floor is not a good idea. You’ve gone from a middle school student to a naked Burt Reynolds from the 1970s. Return to the starting position after a brief pause. Perform 20 repetitions on one side before switching to the other. One to two times each week, do three sets.

Hydrants for firefighting

Take a peek! Another glute activation exercise that will make you look like a knucklehead! Because you’ll be imitating how a dog pees on a fire hydrant, it’s called the fire hydrant. It’s true.

Man doing fire hydrant leg exercise.

Kneel down on your hands and knees, palms flat on the floor, arms shoulder-width apart. (You should have your knees approximately hip-width apart.) You can see me taming my totem labrador dog in this photo.

Man doing fire hydrant leg exercise.

Maintain a straight, neutral spine while you elevate your right leg as high as you can while maintaining it bent, exactly like a dog. As you can tell by my expression, this is more difficult than you may expect. I can feel it in my butt cheeks and hips. Lower and repeat for a total of 15 times. Rep with the other leg. Once or twice a week, do two to three sets.

Man doing fire hydrant leg exercise.

Extend your leg straight once you’ve raised it up for further glute stimulation.

Listen to my interview with Kelly Starrett on my podcast: 


Listen to my interview with Kelly Starrett on my podcast:

I learnt these techniques from physical therapist Kelly Starrett’s book Becoming the Supple Leopard, paleo expert Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple, and weightlifter Medhi of Stronglifts. Starrett’s book and website are very useful if you want to improve your hip mobility as well as your overall limberness.

Ted Slampyak created the illustrations.




Sitting for long periods of time can cause the body to become stiff and tight. This is because sitting puts pressure on the joints, which causes muscles to contract. The muscles that get tightened the most are those in the hips and thighs. Reference: what muscles get tight from sitting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you reverse the effects of sitting?

A: The best way to avoid sitting is by being active.

How do you recover from sitting too much?

A: Sitting for too long can cause muscle fatigue, which could lead to tissue damage. Muscle injury is very common among people who sit all day and it can be treated by exercise or physical therapy.

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