Attention Desk Jockeys: 3 Hip Stretches to Save Your Back

Posted by in FitTip, Health Tips, Lifestyle

“Sitting is the new smoking.”

Gross. Today’s fitness tip breaks down three (3) uber effective hip stretches to help alleviate low back pain from sitting all day loooooooooong.

Before I help you get your swagger back, we need to cover a quick anatomy lesson to help you understand why these stretches are so important:

The following image depicts the lumbar spine (low back), pelvis (hip bones), the Psoas Major (hip flexors) and femurs (upper leg bones).

Hip Flexor Chart

Hip Flexor Chart

Notice how the hip flexor muscles originate along the lumbar spine, pass in front of the pelvis and insert on the upper portion of  the femurs.

When you’re in a seated position for a prolonged period of time these muscles are in a shortened/tight position. Upon standing they can pull on the vertebrae of the low back causing discomfort.

Make sense??

Lengthening these muscles helps take stress off the lumbar vertebrae, easing low back tension.

Stretch #1: Lunge Hip Stretch

Lunge Hip Stretch

Lunge Hip Stretch

Target Muscles: Hip Flexors

Tips:

  • Place one foot flat on sturdy chair (approx 24″ high)
  • Lunge forward, chest up, long spine (stay tall)
  • Hold chair back with same side hand of front leg, stability is key
  • Draw abs in, pushing hip of back leg towards chair
  • For increased stretch intensity, reach same side arm of back leg straight up towards ceiling
  • Breathe deeply for 3 breaths
  • RELAX!

Stretch #2: Seated Hip Stretch

Seated Hip Stretch

Seated Hip Stretch

Target muscles: Deep butt muscles, hip flexors

Tips:

  • Sit towards middle to front of solid surface chair
  • Place ankle on opposite knee
  • Sit tall, long spine
  • Maintaining a flat back, tilt forward at waist
  • To increase intensity, push down slightly on the knee of the bent leg

Stretch #3: Standing Quad Stretch

*You learned this stretch in 5th grade gym class…time to take it to the next level.

Standing Quad Stretch

Standing Quad Stretch

Target muslces: Quads (thighs) and hip flexors

Tips:

  • Hold railing or back of chair
  • Kick your heel up and grasp the top of your shoe (laces) in same side hand. Your knee is a hinge joint, so it’s important maintain joint alignment
  • Stand tall
  • Draw abs in
  • Push hip forward of stretch leg

Final Thoughts:

The goal of stretching is to lengthen a muscle or group of muscles in order to take stress off joints and tendons. In order to lengthen a muscle you need to make sure you are relaxed but stable.  Stretching is not a balance exercise. Lastly, to protect the discs between the vertebrae of the spine, keep a flat back on your stretches.

“Blessed are the flexible, for  they shall not be bent out of shape.” -Author Unknown