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Signs Your Chair May Be Causing Your Hip Flexor Strain
Is sitting in your chair hurting your hips? Do you feel a nagging discomfort every time you flex or move your hips? The culprit could be your chair and how you’re sitting.
For many people, especially those in an office setting, sitting for hours at a time is unavoidable. However, sitting for long periods of time can be extremely straining to the hips, as well as your back and shoulders.
When your hip flexors are weak, the muscles around them are forced to work harder, causing pain. Weak hip flexors can affect your ability to exercise and even walk, and they’re most often treated through physical therapy and exercise.
What You Need to Know About Hip Flexors
To better understand how these muscles work, it’s important to grasp how they’re structured. Hip flexors run from the lower back to the hips, groin, and thigh bone. This muscle group contains four muscles: two at the hip and two at the hip and knee.
The muscles are identified as the psoas major, psoas minor, tensor fascia latae (TFL), and quadriceps. This muscle group controls leg movements in activities like walking, squatting, and lunging. The hip flexors are linked to the lower spine, pelvis, and even the rib cage. Thus, if they get out of balance, stiff, or there is any hip flexor strain, it is easy to imagine that it can cause mayhem throughout the body.
These muscles allow us to flex and bend our hips. When they get stiff or weak, movement in the rest of the body is also affected.
Continue reading with all33 to learn more about what hip flexor strain looks like and how your chair could be contributing!
You Notice a Stiff Pelvis
One of the most common reasons you may be feeling pain in your hip flexors is a stiff pelvis. When your pelvis is tight, it tends to tip forward, causing your back to arch—also known as anterior pelvic tilt.
A healthy pelvis should be positioned forward, relaxed, and free to move. But when you’re sitting improperly or your chair doesn’t support healthy posture, anterior pelvic tilt can become even worse, which can further strain your hip flexors.
Your hips may feel locked, unable to move and flex freely. If left untreated, you may feel severe pain in the front of your hips every time you move. Movements that involve your hips, like crunches or leg lifts, will especially hurt.
To avoid this problem, make sure to stretch out your hips and lower back daily. Focusing on sitting with the proper posture and neither slouching nor over-correcting can help, too.
You’re Having Trouble Walking
If you’re having difficulty walking but don’t know why, pay attention to your hips to see if they hurt as you move. Try to rotate your hips left and right. Then, up and down. If you are feeling pain or discomfort with these simple movements, you are likely suffering from a weakened psoas muscle.
The psoas hip flexor allows the leg to swing forward while walking or running. When this muscle lacks strength, the surrounding muscles must compromise and are overworked. This excess pressure can cause significant pain.
And what is a contributing factor to a weakened psoas muscle? You guessed it—sitting in an unsupportive chair with incorrect posture. When you sit, the psoas muscles shorten, and the gluteus muscles extend. On the surface, this is totally normal. The problem arises when you sit for too long without moving. Since the psoas muscle is in this position for such long periods of time, it can become shortened over time, leading to chronic pain and further issues.
How Your Chair Might Be Failing You
The chair you sit in every day plays a huge role in the health of your hips. Many offices have popularized ergonomic chairs in recent years. However, many of these so-called “ergonomic” chairs are missing essential features to support your hips.
First off, if your chair isn’t adjustable, that’s your first sign that it could be contributing to pain. A height-adjustable seat, arms, backrest, and headrest allow you to customize your chair to your body so that it fits your exact needs.
For your seat, it should be set high enough to keep your hips level with your knees. If your hips are above your knees, your seat is too high. If your hips are below your knees, your seat is too low and could cause further strain to your hip flexors.
The arms of your chair should be adjusted so your forearms can rest comfortably without leaning. When the arms of your chairs are too high, your shoulders tense up and become strained. When they’re too low, you tend to lean toward one side, unevenly distributing the weight in your back.
Next, you need to set your backrest to fit your back comfortably. Ideally, your chair should have lumbar support built into its design, as well as a flexible backrest to accommodate the natural curvature in the spine.
Our backs are not meant to be perfectly straight. In fact, they need a little bit of bend to be relaxed.
Lastly, for your headrest, make sure it’s high enough for your head to lean back on without straining. Make sure it’s not too low, as it could cause you to bend your neck to reach it.
If your chair is missing these features, there’s a good chance that it could be contributing to your hip flexor strain, because it’s making those long hours spent sitting even more harmful for your body.
Watch Your Posture
Another huge factor in maintaining strong hip flexors is your posture, which directly correlates with the chair that you’re sitting in.
The most important activity to practice good posture with is sitting, as it usually demands the most amount of your time. To sit properly, straighten your back just as if you were standing, and keep your chest raised. Just don’t tense up your back in an effort to keep it straight, as this can lead to overcorrecting your posture and worsening anterior pelvic tilt.
Position your legs forward, the same length as your hips apart from each other. Use your hand to check how much space is between the back of your knees and the edge of your chair. If your hand cannot easily pass through the space, move your legs forward.
You should also keep your laptop or computer at eye level while you work, so you’re not bending your neck down to see it.
Always take breaks from sitting as well, so that you give your hip flexors and back the best chance of staying healthy. If possible, stand up every half hour or so to walk around and stretch.
Caring for Your Hip Flexors Is Vital
The human body isn’t designed to sit around all day. By nature, we are active, mobile creatures that come from a line of hunters and gatherers. Still, depending on your job, you may not have a choice but to sit, and your chair could be contributing to some serious wear and tear on your body.
If this is the case, it is necessary to take the proper precautions to protect your hip flexors. Make sure you’re being responsible and doing everything you can to sit in a way that supports your body. Your future self will thank you.
In addition to investing in a quality chair and sitting with correct posture, you should also exercise and stretch daily to keep your muscles loose. Underusing your hip muscles can cause them to degenerate and lose function.
If you’re looking for a new chair to relieve pain in the hips, shoulders, or back, check out our BackStrong chair. These innovative chairs allow for the natural movement of the pelvis, hips, and back while sitting, so that you have fewer worries about causing damage by staying in the same place for too long.
Our chairs also help promote proper posture with added lumbar support and a premium backrest that fits the shape of your spine. They are also fully customizable with adjustable seats, arms, backrests, and headrests. If you want to give yourself the best chance of protecting your hip flexors from strain when sitting, all33 is the way to go.