4 Ways to S-T-R-E-T-C-H out before you stress out (at work)
Your back and booty will thank you after you try these tips out!
You’ve heard the saying: it’s all in the hips, but for many of us, our hips – or more precisely, our hip flexors – are tight, stiff and inflexible. If you’re an office worker you can probably thank sitting down at your desk 8 or more hours a day for your tight hip flexors. Habitual sitting causes your hip flexors to tighten and shorten – adjustable standing desks, anyone?
Here’s the story: a few things happen when you spend your entire day at a desk, regardless of how hard you work: Your back tenses up, your wrists get strained, and your neck muscles stiffen. Unless you're planning on an early retirement (or swear by a standing desk hack) the effects will only get worse over time. Keep reading as I’d like to share a few solutions so you don’t end up looking like quasimodo before your next birthday.
Purpose of Hip Flexors
First off, just what do you hip flexors do? There’s no point in stretching something if all it does is sit there looking pretty! Luckily, it turns out these little muscles are pretty important (dayum!) Specifically, your hip flexors are a group of skeletal muscles responsible for:
- Flexing your hip joint.
- Flexing your trunk forward.
- Pulling your knees upward.
- Moving your legs from side to side and front to back.
- Helps stabilize your lower body.
Why You NEED to Stretch Your Hip Flexors
Tight hip flexors negatively affect the results you get from your workouts! Everybody loves to drop it like a squat, but to get a great squat you need to have great hip flexor mobility. Especially, if you want to hit those glutes for best results.
In other words, flexible hip flexors are going to help you get a better booty! Not only that, having flexible, strong hip flexors will help you get better results from many abdominal exercises.
Tightness in this area also often goes hand-in-hand with anterior pelvic tilt, i.e. where your butt sticks out (more than it should) and, if there’s too much tilt it isn’t great for your posture and as a result can contribute to back pain. Not to mention a negative effect on your athletic performance and just about every activity you do.
Getting flexible in this area can help to correct your pelvic tilt, especially when combined with glute and core work, giving you much better posture.
Luckily, there is a way to loosen up: we’ve sussed out a super simple collection of four yoga poses that can help you counteract the effects of living in a desk chair by giving tortured muscles a little TLC. Practice these stretches after work or, even better, throughout the day.
Eagle Wrap: Place your knees on the mat with the tops of your feet against the floor and your butt on your heels. Extend both arms straight up overhead. Then circle your right arm down and drop your left arm, cradling your left bicep in the crook of your right elbow. Twist your thumbs away from your body and bring your palms together. Then hook your thumbs, and breath into the stretch for as long as you'd like. Then reverse arms (right bicep in the crook of your left elbow) and repeat.
Tip: if you have a hard time bringing arms together, an easy fix is to press your forearms together. This brings shoulder blades toward each other for a long flat back.
What it does: Stretches your upper back and arms.
Cat and Cow: Place your hands and knees on a mat so your shoulders are stacked over your wrists and your hips are over your knees. Turn your thumbs outward until your fingertips face your toes. Exhale as you arch your back and look up toward the ceiling in cow pose. Then, inhale as you curve your spine and bring your gaze back down to complete cat pose. Continue alternating between cat and cow, holding each position for as long as you'd like.
BONUS: Warms the spine up and feels like a gentle massage. Really cheap back pain therapy. Ka-Ching!
What it does: Stretches your shoulders, back, and neck.
Forward Bend: Stand with your feet hips-width apart and a slight bend in the knees. Bend from the waist and let your head hang. Then interlace your fingers behind your neck and gently swing your upper body in a figure-eight motion. Continue for as long as you'd like.
What it does: Releases tension in your neck.
Low Lunge: Kneel on a mat and place your palms underneath your shoulders on the floor in front of you. Bring your left foot to the inside of your left hand, and press into your left heel as you lift your chest and bring both arms straight up to the sky. Keeping your hips square and arms along your ears, arch your lower back and bring your gaze upward as you continue to stretch your arms up and slightly behind you. Hold for as long as you'd like, then repeat on the other side.
What it does: Stretches your back and hip flexors.
Bonus Benefits: Needless to say, this yoga asana gives a good stretch to your body parts, especially your legs and hands. It gives a good massage to your arms, shoulders, thighs, calf muscles and your spine. It helps in improving blood circulation in your body and also enhances the digestive system. It even helps in toning your shoulder and arm muscles. If you regularly practice this yoga asana, then definitely it will help in increasing your body strength. Practicing low lunge on a daily basis keeps you away from knee pain, shoulder or back pain, and even abdominal pain. It helps you in balancing your body on your legs. Furthermore, it stimulates your reproductive organs as well. Above all it makes your body more flexible.
Are these exercises “Working Out” for you? If so, please leave your comments below, on our facebook page, or tweet it to us so we can share with our beloved community!
The Breathe Mat Team