Take Time to Stretch!
Have you been cooped up this year due to the pandemic? Well, who hasn't, right? It has been a frustrating year with limited ability to really let out that steam. We have been sitting more than usual, and likely on soft, comfortable surfaces. If you are working from home, you may not be set up in an ergonomically ideal desk.
It is important to take some time regularly to stretch to prevent pain, or decrease pain that has already started. A couple of specific muscles to target are the ones that get shorter and tighter from sitting.
First is the hip flexors. When these get tight, they pull on the lower back because they attach to our lumbar spine. This can cause back pain when you stand, and/or you may not tolerate sleeping on your stomach. There are a couple of ways to stretch these muscles.
If they are very tight, it is good to start with a stretch on your back. Bring both knees to your
chest, and then let one leg extend out. The straight leg is the one stretching your hip flexors. Keeping the other knee tight to the chest holds the pelvis in place, and you don't want to let the spine arch off of the floor. The stretch would be felt down the front of the straight hip. Your straight leg may not reach the ground, and that is okay. That is because those flexors are tight. From here, you can get a deeper stretch by
getting into a half kneel position. Once you are balanced on one knee, drive the hip of the knee on the ground forward to feel the stretch in the front of the hip. Remember to keep your belly button pointing forward, and do not let it point down. This would mean that the pelvis is tilting and you are not stretching the muscles.
And lastly, a more aggressive stretch that gets the long hip flexor muscle that also crosses the knee, can be done in sidelying. Lay on your side with your knees at 90 degree angles.
Pull the top ankle back toward your bottom, but do not let the bottom knee move. Pull that top leg only until you feel the stretch in the front of that top thigh.
For all of these stretches, be sure to do both legs to stay symmetrical. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Feel free to hold longer, and feel free to do it more than one time.
Next time, we will review the other beneficial stretches to add to your daily routine.