Sitting is worse for athletes

What does performance recovery mean?

Performance recovery (or athlete/sport recovery) is getting more scientific and detailed encompassing way more than just rest in between workouts. In the simplest of terms, training is where you wear + tear your body/muscles and recovery is where you repair/rebuild/restore your body/muscles. Yet, there’s a million ways in which to recover. A lot of times people (coaches and athletes) aren’t aware of certain recovery practices and what that entails.

One of the huge no-no’s as an athlete is to sit in a chair too long (or car, or bus or train). Let’s say throughout the day no more that 2-3 hours (yes, that includes meals, driving, meetings, classes/school/work, watching TV, etc).

Yup, you already know that sitting kills (i.e. sitting is the new smoking) in the kazillion articles written on sitting. But but but but… Sitting is horrific in athletes that are training hard in their sports because it predisposes the athlete to increased risk of injury. Yes!!! If the athlete already has issues/nigglies/pain/injury sitting will ADD to it! When you passively load muscles or position muscles to a shortened and weakened state (i.e. calves, hamstrings, psoas while sitting) it will have serious consequences to your recovery; hence, to your performance. Once again, you are creating further tension/increased adhesions/decreased circulation and electric flow in those areas. It’s all about groceries IN and garbage OUT when dealing with recovery. Please don’t make matters worse and sit too long!

WHAT do athletes do in between practices? Let’s go with the student-athletes. Hhhmmm let’s see.

1. Sitting in chairs at desks in classes all day

2. Sitting in chairs at meetings (strategy sessions) hours on end

3. Sitting on sofas to watch plays/tactics/strategies/etc everyday

4. Driving to and from practice

5. Sitting on sofas relaxing before and after practice for no other reason that to relax (even though it is doing more harm than good).

Yes, I understand that sitting is required in certain circumstances; although, may I suggest a slight alternative?

i. When sitting always sit on your ischial tuberosities (your sit-bones). This will help your spine, pelvic floor, organs and hamstrings.

ii. When sitting have your legs straight out so there is NO knee flexion. This makes a huge difference in the leg circulation.

iii. Have standing meetings. I know it will be hard coaches because you will actually have to stand as well! Get off your asses and stand for a meeting.

iv. Sitting meetings? Get them to sit on a block just above the floor and have them stretch out their legs. Once again, this does wonders for circulation and it helps stretch the athletes out. Many, many, many, many football players have tight hamstrings. Just by stretching out of the legs, within a matter of a couple of weeks, players can notice a huge difference in mobility. Why not try it! Especially if you want the winning advantage.

If you still don’t understand why sitting impedes recovery; then do an experiment! Have 1/2 the team do as little sitting as possible for 2-3 weeks weeks and the other 1/2 sitting (or status quo). I understand, this can be hard because you won’t see them all day everyday. Who knows what they do at home… on the sofa… watching TV… eating honey nut cheerios. I don’t know… just sit less please 🙂