Can massage counteract the effects of prolonged sitting?

Sitting is the new smoking. This slogan is becoming more and more popular, as research have shown that a sedentary lifestyle, like the one of many of us who have an office job, is as bad for the health as smoking.

The human body is designed to move, however quite often our jobs, commitments and schedules don’t allow us to get an optimal amount of movement. As a result, most of us are sitting for prolonged periods, working on a computer or on a phone, causing stress on our posture and on our circulatory and lymphatic systems. Let’s imagine that the blood circulating in our vessels is like water passing through a hose: when we sit for extended periods, we create several right angles throughout the lower body, the hips and the knees which act like kinks in a garden hose, reducing the natural flow.

Poor circulation affects our health on many levels: oxygen and nutrients struggle to reach muscles and organs; toxins and waste products are expelled more slowly; and our immune system is negatively impacted as lymphocytes (the blood cells that defend the body from diseases) are less quick in acting on the areas where they are most needed. Overall, we can experience a sense of fatigue, swelling and even numbness in some parts of the body.

A correct posture is also difficult to keep when sitting for prolonged periods of time: long hours at a desk can cause stooping of the back and tightness in our hips, chest, and shoulders from holding our arms in an ergonomically unfriendly position when typing on a keyboard for example. The force exerted on our lower back, because of gravity pulling the weight of our torso down into our pelvis, can cause lower back pain or sciatic nerve damage as well as inhibiting movement and nerve signals.

The good news is that a regular remedial massage routine, combined with some moderate physical exercise and stretching, can be a powerful management strategy. Our team in The Massage Centre, Chiswick highlight the following points as the main benefits of massage therapy to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting:

  • Improved mobility: massage opens the front of chest and hips by releasing shortened muscles, enabling the overbuilt tension to take a break and recover. This will encourage our muscles to start moving again by softening and relaxing them.
  • Better posture: by loosening the tension in the muscles which are pulling our body out of alignment, massage will facilitate the natural adoption of a healthy posture and will prevent further imbalances.
  • Boosted circulation: the pressure applied during a deep tissue, or a remedial massage helps blood and lymph flow more easily, leaving our body feeling invigorated and lighter. As blood is readily supplying oxygen and nutrients to our tissues, an increased circulation is also facilitating the expulsion of toxins. As a result, energy levels and focus rise (releasing neck tension can open the circulation highways to re-oxygenate the brain) and our immune system is boosted.
  • Positive mood: several studies have proved that sitting for long periods of time each day increases our chances of developing depression and anxiety. Massage therapy, by improving the body circulation, will help balance the endocrine system so that hormones like cortisol, responsible for stress, anxiety, and depression, are kept in check while the production of endorphins, also called “happiness hormones”, is promoted.
  • Waking up weak glutes: tight hip flexors and hamstrings can starve your bum or gluteal muscles of strength and normal function. Massage will help loosen the tight areas and stimulate the weak spots, to enable the tissue to reawaken and start working again.

If you would like to know more about how massage therapy can counteract the effects of prolonged sitting or wish to receive some specific advice and tips tailored on your lifestyle, please do not hesitate to contact us: our team in Chiswick will be happy to help and to assist with any queries. Just call us on 020 8166 8958. We look forward to welcoming you in our clinic very soon!