Are you someone who sits at your desk all day for work? Do you eat lunch at your desk instead of going out or to a breakroom? Do you get in a 30 minute workout and call it good? I am sorry to tell you- stop this insanity! Our bodies need MOVEMENT to be healthy. There are lots of ways to combat this “sitting disease” that so many of us face today, and I am here to help you get more mobile and prevent injury.
The following are a list of the five essential stretches that you should be doing EVERY DAY! Next week I will be getting more into mobility, but this week let’s just start with some basic stretches to help those chronically tight muscles.
Pec (chest) Stretch. When we sit we naturally want to lean forward a little and round our shoulders forward. When we are in this forward slumped posture it tightens up our chest muscles, leading to your shoulders rounding forward even more. A slouched position also weakens the upper back muscles from stretching them out too much, which makes them tight and sore also. So remember your mom’s advice as a kid and sit straight up! Bring your shoulders back as often as you can remember.
Hip Flexor Stretch. When we sit, our hip flexors (the muscles in the front of our hips) become shortened, tight and weak causing us to be stiff and sore, and can lead to low back pain. You can do this stretch a number of ways, but here are a few to start with.
Hamstring Stretch. Hamstring tightness can cause lower back pain. I see a huge amount of people in my clinic with VERY TIGHT hamstring muscles. Now there are a lot of causes of this, but sitting definitely contributes to it. Stretching your hamstrings throughout the day is just one way to help loosen them up, although it is helpful to incorporate eccentric exercises as well. Most people know how to stretch their hamstrings. There are many ways to do this as well. Find what works best for you.
Glute/Piriformis Stretch. This one is so easy to do you don’t even have to get out of your chair! Again there are many variations, even some with a tennis ball, and like the others the more you work at it the easier it becomes. This stretch is so important because your Piriformis muscle sits (for most people) on top of your sciatic nerve in your buttock region. When you sit too long, have an unbalanced pelvis or injure the Piriformis muscle, it becomes tight and irritated which can cause the sciatic nerve to become irritated, sending shooting pain down your leg. At ProMotion Chiropractic we focus on restoring normal pelvic alignment, decreasing tension within the surrounding muscles and adding stability exercises/stretches to ensure we fix the problem.
Neck Stretches. Our necks are often ignored, but they too need to be stretched and strengthened to avoid pain and dysfunction. Try these exercises at your desk to restore some range of motion. Also do a posture check- when you are sitting at your desk, where is your head in relation to your shoulders? Is it leaning back against your chair, or is it right in front of your computer screen away from your body? Try to keep your head directly over your shoulders to avoid straining the upper back and neck soft tissue. Same with when you drive your car- make sure your head isn’t coming forward. I like to rest my head against the headrest to remind myself to not let it drift forward unconsciously.
If you are sitting most of the day, try to do these stretches at your desk every hour, as well as walk around for two minutes each hour. This will promote blood flow to your extremities and tight muscles as well as break up your sustained posture and help prevent its ill effects. If you are still having problems, or if this just isn’t enough call us today for an assessment to see what is working and what is causing dysfunction. Chiropractic care is helpful for many pain conditions, as well as restoring normal range of motion, increasing mobility and allowing the body to properly heal. Take care of your body and it will take care of you back.
Author: Dr. Courtenay Schroeder, DC
Owner/Chiropractor @ ProMotion Chiropractic
The information and reference guides in this website are intended solely for informational purposes only to promote consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. The contents of this website are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any questions or advice on any exercise, medication, nutrition or supplementation.