Take a moment to think about sitting. Perhaps you’re already sitting so that won’t be a stretch (I think there might be a pun in there). There’s a 90° bend at your waist and another 90° bend at your knees. The average Canadian sits for 10 hours a day. It’s not hard to get to 10 hours when you include eating meals, commuting, office work and TV watching. If you do the math, that is 3,650 hours per year. It’s no wonder having a sore back and bad knees is commonplace in our society. All of our muscles, tendons and ligaments have tightened to keep us in the position. The only way to loosen up is to do exercises that get us out of the position. Less sitting is also an option but we’ll stick with the exercise method for now.
I was introduced to this wonderful two part stretch that doesn’t require any equipment, except maybe something stable to hang on to for balance. Here are the details:
- Step into a lunge position by stepping forward (doesn’t have to be a big step) with your left foot and lift your right heel. Let your right knee bend slightly toward the floor. Hold on to something if you need help staying balanced.
- Slowly bend forward at the waist so that your hands are on the floor.
- Push back slightly so your weight is on the heel of your left foot (your right heel is still off of the floor).
- The stretch should be in the left hamstring and perhaps in the left glute.
- Keep your feet and knees in the exact same position and lift your upper body up (this may require holding on to something stable).
- Once you’re balanced, lift both hands up over your head like you’re cheering for something.
- Look up at the ceiling/sky behind you and push your left hip forward slightly.
- The stretch should be in the right hip and in the top of the right quadricep.
Repeat Part One and Part Two with your right leg forward and left leg back. Sometimes it takes subtle adjustments to maximize the stretch. Try shifting your weight forward or backward. Try increasing the bend in the knee that is bent.
To benefit from a stretch like this it’s best to do it once on both sides (holding for a few seconds) for every hour that you’ve been seated. The best results will come if you can break it up throughout your day.
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