5 Easy Exercises: for the Person Who Sits A Lot
Sitting a lot, or more than usual? Can’t get to your usual exercise classes, and home workouts just aren't happening? Feeling stiff and sore and not sure what to do about it?
Here are a few simple home exercises you can do to keep things in shape.
Remember the Golden Rule: If it hurts, don’t do it.
Stretching should always feel good. If it doesn't, stop.
Now that's been said, hold stretches for around 30 seconds, and remember to breathe. Holding your breath will impair the relaxation response in the tissues, whereas breathing deeply and slowly will help your tissues relax and lengthen.
With sitting, particularly at a computer, poor posture is extremely common. This likely means shoulders slumping forward, perhaps the head migrates forward on the neck, maybe the legs are crossed. This can lead to things like pain in the shoulders, headaches, and backaches. Remember to take regular breaks to get up and stretch. Here are some good ones to try:
Pec Major Stretch
Find a wall or door frame and extend your arm at about shoulder height, palm to the wall. Slowly turn your body away from your arm until a stretch is felt in the front of the shoulder. You may also feel it a little through the bicep (the front of the upper arm); you shouldn’t feel it anywhere else. Hold for about 30 seconds, breathing deeply, then turn slowly back towards the extended arm and take it slowly down from the wall.
(Apologies for the poor picture quality on this one. It was harder than I expected to find one depicting correct technique).
Hip Flexor stretch
The hip flexors can become short with extended periods of sitting. Stretch them out to ease hips and lower back with this easy stretch.
Kneel with one knee on the floor, the other knee bent at 90°, foot on the floor, torso upright. Slowly press your hips forward, keeping pelvis square and back up straight, until a stretch is felt at the front of the hip.
Ease the hips and lower back with this gentle floor-based stretch.
Lie on your back, one leg extended. Pull the other knee towards your chest, pulling it gently in with your hands.
This is a great one for upper back mobility.
Start in a quadruped position, knees below hips, wrists below shoulders. Inhale as you sink your belly towards the floor, then exhale as you slowly invert the position, arching your back and letting your head drop forward. Repeat several times, breathing slowly in and out as you do, and holding a few seconds in each pose.
This is a great one for freeing up the whole spine.
Start in a neutral standing position, feet hip width apart. Inhale, and slowly start to roll down into a forward fold position. Start by bending your nose towards your chest, and let the rest of the spine roll down, one vertebrae at a time. Exhale slowly as you fold down, keeping the knees soft, until a comfortable forward bend is reached. Your fingertips might reach anywhere from mid-thigh to the floor, depending on your flexibility levels; wherever is comfortable for you is fine.
You might even like to take a breath in and out at the bottom of the fold, letting your spine lengthen as gravity does its thing. Slowly come back up, one vertebrae at a time, until you are standing straight. Roll your shoulders to ease them back into a neutral position.
Repeat several times; it will get easier after a few repetitions. Breathe slowly and deeply throughout.
And finally – remember to hydrate! A dehydrated body will feel more stiffness and pain than a hydrated one. Nourish your cells with plenty of water throughout the day. Coffee, tea (including green tea) and alcohol all dehydrate you, so if you have these remember to drink extra pure water to replenish. For more information about hydration, see an earlier blog.
This article is for information only. For further information, please consult your healthcare professional.
Pec Major Stretch, 2018, photograph, viewed 12th January 2020 <salusmt.com>
Psoas Lunge Stretch, 2018, illustration, viewed 15th January 2020 <backintelligence.com>
Glut Stretch, 2016, photograph, viewed 30th April 2020 <blog.portea.com>
Cat Cow, 2019, illustration, viewed 30th April 2020 <womenworking.com>
Rehab My Patient, 2014, Pilates Spinal Flexion Rolldown, video still, viewed 30th April 2020 <youtube.com>