Mas­ter Class

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - MATT PARROTT Matt Parrott has a doc­tor­ate in ed­u­ca­tion (sport stud­ies) and a mas­ter’s in ki­ne­si­ol­ogy and is cer­ti­fied by the American Col­lege of Sports Medicine. vball­top@aol.com

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!

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY

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