Do you sit at your desk all day? If so, these three stretches are designed specifically for you.
“Sitting is the New Smoking”
Heard this before? Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Symptoms include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Too much sitting also increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
More than half of the average person’s waking life involves sedentary activity. Watching television, working at a computer or commuting are some of the main contributors to prolonged sitting. While it can be unavoidable for some office workers, these great stretches can help limit the damage caused by sitting all day.
Being aware of the problem makes it much easier to find a solution. On the tube? Stand up. Sending an internal e-mail? You could get up and speak to them in person. Watching TV? Get off the sofa during the ad breaks and stretch your legs.
Relieve Tight Muscles
A major detriment to long periods of sitting is the effect on your posture, flexibility, mobility, and joint health. Back pain is a common complaint, and can be linked to excessive sitting.
Try these stretches three times a week, preferably in the evening or before bed. Ensure you aren’t stretching cold muscles, a 3-5 minute warm-up is essential to improve blood flow and get the most out of the exercises. This can be walking or lightly jogging on the spot.
Stretch 1 – The Cobra
Lie face down, with your arms either side of your chest – like the bottom position of a press-up. Push yourself up, arching your back and keeping your knees on the floor. Hold for 30-45 seconds.
Stretch 2 – Hip Flexors
Assume a single leg kneeling position. Tense your glutes (bum muscles) first before leaning forward into the stretch. If you have your right leg forward you will feel the stretch in the front of your left thigh. Hold for 45-60 seconds, then switch. If you want to intensify the stretch, lift up the arm that’s opposite to the front leg.
Stretch 3 – Figure 4 stretch
As pictured, lift one leg up and cross it over so your ankle rests on the opposite knee. While keeping a flat back, force the knee of the crossed leg down to the floor (see arrow in picture) – use your hands if necessary. This is stretching your piriformis and opening up your hips. Hold for 45-60 seconds, then switch. This can also be performed lying on your back.
Another issue is the glutes, which tend not to activate while seated. Weak glutes are a very common problem for people who sit all day. You can strengthen your glutes by following the exercises found here.
See the video below for more great advice about counteracting the damages of sitting all day