Running vs. sitting, abdominal bracing

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

This week, no deep insights into how to race faster but I think some interesting research/thoughts on how to be more healthy.

Running vs. sitting

We all know running is good for our health and spending too much time sitting is bad. How do the two counteract each other, though? For a long time, people believed running would be like a bullet proof vest, protecting us from the harmful effects of being too sedentary. Then sitting became the armor piercing bullet that could negate all the effects of running and then some, basically making running meaningless if you sit the rest of the day.

Not surprisingly, the answer is somewhere in the middle.

According to a research team from the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center, each time unit of sitting cancels out 8 percent of your gain from the same amount of running. In other words, if you run for an hour in the morning, and then sit for 10 hours during the day, you lose roughly 80 percent of the health benefit from your morning workout.

While that’s hardly a pretty picture for runners who are sedentary during the rest of our lives, it’s not quite the bad picture that was painted for us before (and I use "our" and "us" for a reason – I’m not nearly as active as I should be outside of my running life, I spend far too much time sitting).

Fortunately, there were some useful strategies to try to overcome these issues also given:

The team from UT Southwestern advises that office workers (and home workers) employ a number of strategies to avoid excessive sitting time. The list is becoming standard these days, and includes: walking up stairs at work rather than taking elevators; standing while talking on the phone; holding walking meetings; sitting on a fitness ball or using a standing desk; taking a lunchtime walk; and using pedometer to log your daily step count.

“We found that when someone’s sitting for a long time, any movement is good movement,” says co-author Jacquelyn Kulinski, M.D. “If you’re stuck at your desk, stretch, shift positions frequently or just fidget. They all improve fitness.”

Next time I’m fidgeting at work, it’s not because I’m nervous or struggling with a concept. I’m doing it for my health. ;)

Abdominal bracing

How many of you have heard that, when you want to lift a heavy weight or do crunches or something like that, you should draw in your belly button to support your back?

Yeah, me too. That has always been the go to advice. Well, maybe it’s not the best advice.

This article makes a very good case for abdominal bracing instead of pulling your belly button in, which the author calls abdominal hollowing. What is abdominal bracing?

Think about what you would do if you were to prepare yourself for someone to punch you in the gut. You would immediately tense and stiffen you core to brace for the impact. This is exactly what abdominal bracing is, a term first coined by Dr. Stuart McGill of Canada, a leading expert in spine mechanics.

That description is probably about as good as it gets. The case being made in favor of this is very convincing. Personally, I’m rethinking my beliefs on this one. It makes a lot of sense.

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