My long time client, Jane* and I have been working on a plan of action to decrease her chronic pain and stiffness she experiences during her jam-packed work day. She follows a consistent workout routine 4 days per week, but now that she is working solely from home, the amount of sitting has increased and not surprisingly her pain.
Sitting for a good part of our day or even long periods of time takes a toll on our bodies, not to mention our brains. Even with a proper desk chair, our postures can be compromised, putting undue pressure on our low back. This pressure can compress our discs and stress the surrounding muscles and joints. Hip flexors will shorten adding more stress on your back as well.
Working at a standing desk, pacing in your home or office while on a conference call or scheduling quick breaks to step away from the chair are all great options that Jane and I came up with. When she can’t pull herself away from her chair, we put together a quick seated stretch routine, where she can run through all these exercises in under 10 minutes, or take a minute or 2 and choose one stretch that her body needs in that particular moment. Easily done while on a phone call, but not recommended when participating in a video conference!
Hamstring Stretch – Lengthen the back of your leg with this gentle hamstring stretch. Avoid rounding forward (you’ve been doing that at your desk) and instead hinge forward at your hips with a long, tall spine. Adding a point and flex of your ankle is great to activate the feet and add the calf into the stretch.
Glute Stretch – Some of us have such tight hips and butt muscles, that just by placing our ankle on the opposite knee is an unbelievably intense stretch. If this is the case, just keep your posture long and tall to stay out of your low back. If you want a deeper stretch, hinge forward toward the elevated leg.
Side Bend (Pilates Mermaid) – I love this version of the Mermaid. It is similar to the one I teach on the Pilates Chair. Stretching the leg out to the side not only stretches your torso but also your hip. When stretching over to the side, avoid collapsing into the other side that is shortening. Think of reaching through your side from your shoulder/armpit.
Lunge – If I only had time for one of these 4 stretches, the Lunge would be my go-to! This stretch focuses on the muscles in the front of the leg, opening up the hip flexor and quadricep.
Make sure to hinge forward to avoid compression in your low back. Do your best to straighten the full leg (especially behind the knee). Gently pushing through the heel will increase the intensity of the stretch.
*Client’s name has been changed for privacy