As Coronavirus cases are on the rise again, many of us may find we’re spending more time at home than we’re used to. With this extra time inside, it’s important to remember that there are many benefits that come with staying active and mobile throughout your day. Prolonged sitting can contribute to tight muscles, stiff joints, and poor postural habits. Not to mention, leading a sedentary lifestyle can also put individuals at risk for diseases and conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Adding movement to your day can help prevent the occurrence of neck and back pain as well. Many individuals who present with neck and back pain report discomfort with sitting, driving, sleeping, or standing for prolonged periods of time.
Anyone who spends time sitting throughout their day – whether it’s at a desk, in the car, or on the couch – will benefit from a daily hip flexor stretch. Keeping your hip flexors lengthened can also help prevent the onset of back pain. Our hip flexors actually attach onto our lumbar spine, so tightness in these muscles have a direct impact on our low back.
In order to achieve a proper hip flexor stretch, start in a half-kneeling position with one foot out in front. Place your hands on your hips, tuck your pelvis underneath your spine, and squeeze your glutes. You should feel the stretch in the front of your hip. Hold for at least 30 seconds, and repeat 3 times on each leg.
This can be performed as both a static stretch and dynamic stretch. It helps to facilitate rotation through the thoracic spine, which tends to be stiff in many individuals who sit throughout their day.
Start in a table top position on your hands and knees. Make sure your hips are directly over your knees, and your shoulders are directly over your wrists. Take you one hand and reach it behind your opposite arm and across the floor as far as you can. This will bring your shoulder close to the floor. For a static stretch, hold this position for 20-30 seconds. For a dynamic stretch, repeat the movement of reaching across the floor and returning to the table top position for 8-12 repetitions.
Our calves are fairly large muscles and are active in many functional movements. Therefore, this is another muscle that everyone could benefit from stretching everyday.
Find an empty wall or counter that you can lean your upper body against. Stagger your stance so that one foot is close to the wall and the other leg is extended behind you. Keep the front knee bent, and the back knee straight. Make sure your back foot is pointed directly towards the wall, and is not veering out to the side. If you don’t feel a deep enough stretch in this position, place a towel roll under the ball of your back foot.
If you find it hard to designate time during the day, there are other easy ways to get in extra movement. Try taking the stairs over the elevator when available, performing calf raises while brushing your teeth, or even take a quick 10 minute walk during your lunch break. There’s plenty of ways to practice getting in additional exercise each day — this is where you can get creative!
The key to staying motivated is to find an activity that you look forward to. If movement/exercise feels like something you HAVE to do, you won’t be motivated to complete it. If it is something that makes you happy and brings you mental clarity, you will be more likely to be consistent with your movement! When trying to start a habit of staying active, use an alarm on your phone to remind you to add movement to your day. Figure out a time of day that works best for you, and over time it’ll fall more easily into your routine.
If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort during these exercises, schedule an appointment with a Professional physical therapist by visiting www.sosphysiorehab.com.