Lack of hip flexibility is a contributing factor for lower back pain, particularly for those with sedentary occupations.
Sitting at a desk for eight hours per day predisposes many of us to hip inflexibility, which is exacerbated by training regimens that don’t include hip stretches.
This week, I’ll provide a few tips for maintaining hip flexibility against all odds, and will introduce a fantastic hip stretch that can be a game changer.
Twenty years ago, the number of occupations involving computer work was a fraction of today’s figures. Even those who once worked in more “active” jobs have been affected by technological enhancements that have undoubtedly reduced the amount of manual labor required in their day-to-day routines.
While our society has advanced technologically, the impact on human bodies has been dramatic. “Occupational” fitness is so rare that almost everyone can benefit from a purposeful, intentional exercise program aimed at increasing physical activity and addressing harms built into their daily routines.
The hips matter. Without fully functional hips, it becomes harder and harder to walk, stand, reach, sleep — even to sit comfortably. Mobility becomes extremely limited, which obviously makes weight management that much more difficult. And that kind of hip dysfunction is prevalent among people with sit-down jobs.
On the bright side, this presents an opportunity to develop a plan of attack, especially for those of us who use computers for our livelihood. By itself, one hip stretch a day won’t reduce your weight, increase your fitness or increase your physical activity. But it can help to limit hip stiffness and, by extension, lower back tightness.
This week’s exercise is a simple hip stretch that requires a little effort to perform. The Pigeon Stretch With Torso Rotation isn’t an easy stretch, and it is not appropriate for everyone. People with artificial joints shouldn’t try it. But it is extremely effective and can be a difference maker when performed correctly.
1. Sit on an exercise mat.
2. Place your left leg in front of you with the left knee bent to 90 degrees and the sole of your shoe pointing to the right. Extend your right leg straight behind you.
3. Place both hands on the floor to support your weight. This is the pigeon stretch position.
4. Lift your left hand over your head for a brief hold, then move the left hand underneath your right arm.
5. Rotate your torso to the left and lean forward to assist with this motion.
6. As you reach the end of your range of motion, reverse direction. Do five repetitions.
7. Switch sides with the legs and arms, then repeat.
This stretch can be made a bit easier by using a bed or work desk. The floor position is more challenging to get into, but a bed or a desk can support the front leg while allowing the back leg to remain in a standing position. Either way, you’ll feel a great stretch in the front hip during this awesome hip stretch. Enjoy!