‘Sitting is the new smoking’. Not only is sitting terrible for your posture, however it has been proven to increase your risk of chronic health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, alongside noted detriment to your mental health. For office workers and students alike – particularly leading into exam period, the postural integrity of the public is in danger. How often is it that you find yourself hunched over a computer screen, perhaps even experiencing tightness or pain? You might stand up tall, do a few spins from side to side before resuming your slouched posture thinking you’ve ‘reset’; unfortunately, that’s not going to cut it, but we’ve got some exercises, when paired with periods of standing and an awareness of sitting with appropriate posture that will.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Two main areas cop it during prolonged periods of sitting – the hips, and of course the upper back/neck. Looking to the anatomy of the hips, maintaining constant flexion puts the hip flexors in a shortened state which due to their attachment points over time will pull the pelvis into an anteriorly tilted position. This can lead to a pronounced lower back curve which often results in lower back pain. The apparent fix to this is avoid the hip flexors shortening, or if this is already occurring, aim to provide them with some lengthening strategies. A method of doing so is the classic ‘hip flexor stretch’, however we have a few cues which will maximise the effectiveness of this.
Looking to the above photo, some vital points are:
- Stay tall through the body
- Contract the glute of the straightened leg
- Rather that pushing your hips through and over stretching, try to ‘tuck your tailbone’
- To feel a greater stretch, reach your arm up on the lengthened side, and while keeping your chest tall, lean across your body
Where possible, complete 2 reps on each side, holding the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
In a prolonged hunched posture, the muscles around the thoracic spine become stiff and will struggle to maintain range in both brining your chest up tall and achieving rotation. A remedy for this is the ‘reach through’ exercise.
Important notes for the reach through are:
- Keep the body square (i.e. hips stay level)
- Keep the non-moving arm straight with your chest up tall
- Reach through as far as possible
- Rotate away from the body thinking about these points as well
- Follow your hand with your eyes
- Move through the movement nice and slow, looking to reach a little further each rep
Complete 2 sets of 4 reps each direction.
Our third and final exercise is the ‘cobra with lat walk’, which provides some additional mobility around the both the pelvis and thoracic spine.
- In the cobra position, look upwards and show your chest to the sky
- Slowly rotate the body side to side 2 times each way
- In the puppy position get your chest and elbows as low to the ground as possible
- Walk hands around to the side while maintaining this low position to feel a lat stretch, holding for 5 seconds
Complete 3 reps each side in each position.
While these mobility drills may seem taxing or silly, completing these 1-2 times per day could save your posture, improve your mental state and decrease the risk of chronic disease. This will help you perform better as not only an athlete, but as a person – that’s worth it, isn’t it? If you have any questions or would like some further stretches tailored to your needs, get in touch with the team at RAD.