by Tunde Szivak, PhD, CSCS,*D, David Boland, and Michael Kamal, MEd, CSCS,*D, RSCC*D
TSAC Report January 2022
Vol 62, Issue 1
Tactical professions often have heavy physical demands despite frequent periods of inactivity and sedentary off-duty time (1,2). This unique scenario, termed the sedentary-active paradox, is exacerbated by a lack of targeted physical fitness training or tactical occupational tasks that are relatively low in physical demand, such as office work, sitting in a patrol vehicle, or supervising inmates (2,3). Within tactical professions, periods of inactivity, or chronic sitting, are as prevalent as they are in the broader adult population. Research has shown a doubling of obesity rates among military and veteran populations from 2001 – 2007, and obesity rates as high as 40% have been reported among police officers (4,5,6,7). These figures mirror obesity rates among the general adult population in the United States (8). The results of long periods of sedentary time include increased prevalence of health concerns, increased injury risk with physical activity, decreased ability to tolerate occupational demands, and decreased longevity in the profession (9). Because chronic sitting and sedentary time are invariably linked, an understanding of the effects of sitting on the neuromuscular system and occupational task performance is necessary, as is knowledge of practical strategies to minimize the negative impact of chronic sitting for the tactical professional.
This article originally appeared in TSAC Report, the NSCA’s quarterly, online-only publication geared toward the training of tactical athletes, operators, and facilitators. It provides research-based articles, performance drills, and conditioning techniques for operational, tactical athletes. The TSAC Report is only available for NSCA Members. Read more articles from TSAC Report
1. Dawes, JJ, Orr, RM, Flores, RR, Lockie, RG, Kornhauser, C, and Holmes, R. A physical fitness profile of state highway patrol officers by gender and age. Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 29: 16, 2017.
2. Lockie, RG, Orr, RM, Moreno, MR, Dawes, JJ, and Dulla, JM. Time spent working in custody influences work sample test battery performance of deputy sheriffs compared to recruits. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16(7): 2019.
3. Kukic, F, Heinrich, KM, Koropanovski, N, Poston, WSC, Cvorovic, A, Dawes, JJ, et al. Differences in body composition across police occupations and moderation effects of leisure time physical activity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17(18): 2020.
4. Can, SH, and Hendy, HM. Behavioral variables associated with obesity in police officers. Industrial Health 52(3): 240-247, 2014.
5. Breland, JY, Phibbs, CS, Hoggatt, KJ, Washington, DL, Lee, J, Haskell, S, et al. The obesity epidemic in the Veterans health administration: Prevalence among key populations of women and men Veterans. Journal of General Internal Medicine 32(Suppl 1): 11-7, 2017.
6. Rush, T, LeardMann, CA, and Crum-Cianflone, NF. Obesity and associated adverse health outcomes among US military members and veterans: Findings from the Millennium Cohort Study. Obesity 24(7): 1582-1589, 2016.
7. McDaniel, JT, Thomas, KH, Angel, CM, Erwin, MS, Nemec, LP, Young, BB, et al. Regional differences in BMI, obesity, and exercise frequency in a large veteran service organization: A secondary analysis of new veteran member surveys from Team Red, White & Blue. Preventive Medicine Reports 12: 116-121, 2018.
8. Garber, CE, Blissmer, B, Deschenes, MR, Franklin, BA, Lamonte, MJ, Lee, IM, et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: Guidance for prescribing exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 43(7): 1334-59, 2011.
9. Kollock, RO, Games, KE, Wilson, AE, and Sefton, JM. Vehicle exposure and spinal musculature fatigue in military warfighters: A meta-analysis. Journal of Athletic Training 51(11): 981-990, 2016.
10. Buckthorpe, M, Stride, M, and Villa, FD. Assessing and treating gluteus maximus weakness - A clinical commentary. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy 14(4): 655-669, 2019.
11. Baker, R, Coenen, P, Howie, E, Williamson, A, and Straker, L. The short term musculoskeletal and cognitive effects of prolonged sitting during office computer work. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 15(8): 2018.
12. Waqas, MS, Ali, M, Hussain, S, and Mahmood, S. Frequency of reduced hamstring flexibility in prolong sitting (6-8 hours) among office workers. Journal of Riphah College of Rehabilitation Sciences 4(2): 77-80, 2016.
13. Celik, S, Celik, K, Dirimese, E, Tasdemir, N, Arik, T, and Buyukkara, I. Determination of pain in musculoskeletal system reported by office workers and the pain risk factors. International Journal of Occupation Medicine and Environmental Health 31(1): 91-111, 2018.
14. Daneshmandi, H, Choobineh, A, Ghaem, H, and Karimi, M. Adverse effects of prolonged sitting behavior on the general health of office workers. Journal of Lifestyle Medicine 7(2): 69-75, 2017.
15. Pope-Ford, R, and Jiang, Z. Neck and shoulder muscle activation patterns among dentists during common dental procedures. Work 51(3): 391-399, 2015.
16. Nejati, P, Lotfian, S, Moezy, A, and Nejati, M. The study of correlation between forward head posture and neck pain in Iranian office workers. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health 28(2): 295-303, 2015.
17. Kocur, P, Wilski, M, Lewandowski, J, and Lochynski, D. Female office workers with moderate neck pain have increased anterior positioning of the cervical spine and stiffness of upper trapezius myofascial tissue in sitting posture. PM&R: The Journal of Injury, Function and Rehabilitation 11(5): 476-82, 2019.
18. Mahmoud, NF, Hassan, KA, Abdelmajeed, SF, Moustafa, IM, and Silva, AG. The relationship between forward head posture and neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Current Reviews in Musculoskelet Medicine 12(4): 562-577, 2019.
19. De Mey, K, Danneels, LA, Cagnie, B, Huyghe, L, Seyns, E, and Cools, AM. Conscious correction of scapular orientation in overhead athletes performing selected shoulder rehabilitation exercises: The effect on trapezius muscle activation measured by surface electromyography. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy 43(1): 3-10, 2013.
20. Heneghan, NR, Baker, G, Thomas, K, Falla, D, and Rushton, A. What is the effect of prolonged sitting and physical activity on thoracic spine mobility? An observational study of young adults in a UK university setting. BMJ Open 8(5): e019371, 2018.
21. Vladimir, JCF, and Liebenson, C. Evaluation of muscular imbalance. In: Liebenson, C (Ed.). Rehabilitation of the Spine – A Practitioner’s Manual. (2nd ed.) Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006.
22. Hickey, D, Solvig, V, Cavalheri, V, Harrold, M, and McKenna, L. Scapular dyskinesis increases the risk of future shoulder pain by 43% in asymptomatic athletes: A systematic review and metaanalysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine 52(2): 102-110, 2018.
23. Boukabache, A, Preece, SJ, and Brookes, N. Prolonged sitting and physical inactivity are associated with limited hip extension: A cross-sectional study. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice 51: 102282, 2021.
24. Amabile, AH, Bolte, JH, and Richter, SD. Atrophy of gluteus maximus among women with a history of chronic low back pain. PLoS One 12(7): e0177008, 2017.
25. Beach, TA, Parkinson, RJ, Stothart, JP, and Callaghan, JP. Effects of prolonged sitting on the passive flexion stiffness of the in vivo lumbar spine. The Spine Journal 5(2): 145-154, 2005.
26. Willardson, JM. Core stability training: Applications to sports conditioning programs. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 21(3): 979-985, 2007.
27. Szivak, T. Resistance exercise considerations for load carriage. TSAC Report 56: 4-5, 2020.
28. Larsen, LB, Andersson, EE, Tranberg, R, and Ramstrand, N. Multi-site musculoskeletal pain in Swedish police: Associations with discomfort from wearing mandatory equipment and prolonged sitting. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 91(4): 425-433, 2018.
29. Silva, N, Travassos, B, Goncalves, B, Brito, J, and Abade, E. Pre-match warm-up dynamics and workload in elite futsal. Frontiers in Psychology 11: 584602, 2020.
30. McGowan, CJ, Pyne, DB, Thompson, KG, and Rattray, B. Warm-up strategies for sport and exercise: Mechanisms and applications. Sports Medicine 45(11): 1523-1546, 2015.
31. Carney, DR, Cuddy, AJ, and Yap, AJ. Power posing: Brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychological Science 21(10): 1363-1368, 2010.
32. Games, KE, Lakin, JM, Quindry, JC, Weimar, WH, and Sefton, JM. Prolonged restricted sitting effects in UH-60 helicopters. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance 86(1): 34-40, 2015.
33. Berry, DB, Rodriguez-Soto, AE, Su, J, Gombatto, SP, Shahidi, B, Palombo, L, et al. Lumbar spine postures in Marines during simulated operational positions. Journal of Orthopaedic Research 35(10): 2145-2153, 2017.
34. Kennedy-Armbruster, C, Evans, EM, Sexauer, L, Peterson, J, and Wyatt, W. Association among functional-movement ability, fatigue, sedentary time, and fitness in 40 years and older active duty military personnel. Military Medicine 178(12): 1358-1364, 2013.
35. Pronk, NP, Katz, AS, Lowry, M, and Payfer, JR. Reducing occupational sitting time and improving worker health: The Takea- Stand Project, 2011. Preventing Chronic Disease 9: E154, 2012.
36. Wang, K, Cai, G, Huang, S, Li, Y, Li, R, and Wu, W. Performance of healthy persons under pain in different cognitive load tasks: An event-related potential study on experimental pain individuals. Brain and Behavior 10(8): 2020.
37. Duvivier, BM, Schaper, NC, Bremers, MA, van Crombrugge, G, Menheere, PP, Kars, M, et al. Minimal intensity physical activity (standing and walking) of longer duration improves insulin action and plasma lipids more than shorter periods of moderate to vigorous exercise (cycling) in sedentary subjects when energy expenditure is comparable. PLoS One 8(2): e55542, 2013.
38. Miles-Chan, JL, and Dulloo, AG. Posture allocation revisited: Breaking the sedentary threshold of energy expenditure for obesity management. Frontiers in Physiology 8: 420, 2017.