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If I had a dollar for something along the lines of... "lots of sitting every day gives you tight hip flexors and hamstrings/calves...".

I am skeptical of that claim. It's plausible, but seems taken for granted everywhere. Some muscles (eg adductors) seem to be in a constantly tight state. I've never heard "keeping your legs together gives you tight adductors".

I was wondering if there is any science based evidence showing sitting actually reduces flexibility of you hip flexors and hamstring/calves.

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    I honestly think you'll struggle to find anything beyond empirical evidence, I can't imagine someone funding a study along those lines, as interesting as it would be, there's simply no profit in it (I suppose unless you're in the stand up desk business). I've definitely noticed a difference between working in a warehouse walking around all day and sitting at a desk all day – Dark Hippo Jan 9 '17 at 10:04
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    This would most likely go along the lines of "lots of sitting doesn't necessarily give you tight hip flexors, but people who sit a lot are also inactive and don't do things that would prevent tight hip flexors." – DeeV Jan 9 '17 at 16:30
  • @DarkHippo yeh it was inspired by this blog post bettermovement.org/blog/2011/… – Joao Noch Jan 9 '17 at 23:50
  • @JoaoNoch interesting, there's a lot of very good points there. I think Deev may have a point, that people who sit a lot may generally be more inactive and don't do anything to combat the natural aging effects (such as muscle weakening / shortening) – Dark Hippo Jan 10 '17 at 8:45
  • @DarkHippo - Struggle to find anything beyond empirical evidence? What more do you want? That's sort of the ideal evidence. Unless you meant to say anecdotal evidence? – Alec Jan 10 '17 at 12:25
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Short answer? Yes it does.

Chairs are designed to help us maintain an upright position, while taking the load off our legs. They aren't designed to sit on for 8 hours a day, every day. Once a human being starts doing this, bad things happen to the body.

A squatting position is a lot more natural, and sitting on a chair for hours can actually harm our spine, hips and make us less flexible.

Resources:

  • This video explains how the shape of our spine naturally let's us sit in a squatting position, and how the shape of our spine has shifted since by the usage of chairs, causing back pain and other injuries that countries which use chairs a lot less don't have, or in less quantity.

  • This article also talks about how the shape of our spine changed due to what they call the "american lifestyle".

  • Here is another article.

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  • The second article mentioned above is about Esther Gokhale. She made a splash on npr in 2015. She has created a business based on her ideas called The Gokhale Method. However, she has never published her results in a peer reviewed journal. I searched for her name in the physical therapy literature, and it does not appear anywhere. So either the entire physical therapy profession is wrong, or she is. – Chris Feb 11 '19 at 5:22
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Yes, sitting will eventually stiffen you up and reduce your ROM only IF you don't do mobility work. Stretching everyday and some yoga thrown into the mix will more than likely negate any negative impact sitting has. Speaking from experience I work 9 hours a day in an office and if I go even 2-3 days with no stretching I will start to tighten up and my ROM will be severely reduced.

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