Sitting too long during Quarantine? Tight neck? Tight Hips? Low Back Pain? What next?
We all know the human body is not made for prolonged sitting, however, due to Covid-19 and being quarantined, we have all found ourselves guilty of sitting too much. Prolonged sitting may lead to pain related to muscle imbalances creating short, tight muscles and/or weak, overstretched ones. The purpose of this article is to help combat these issues so we can help you return to function and reduce pain.
Here are a few, simple stretches to help reduce low back pain, improve mobility, and flexibility.
Let’s begin at the top- and please note all stretches may be held approx. 15-30sec, 2-3x and switch sides.
2- way neck stretch (For the Trapezius and Levator Scapula):
Seated tall in the chair- Feet planted on the floor Hip and knees at a 90/90, trunk in an erect, upright position. Draw your RIGHT ear towards your RIGHT shoulder, gently pull your ear closer with the RIGHT arm. The stretch can be increased by gripping your LEFT hand under the chair and slightly lean towards the Right.
Seated Piriformis Stretch or “Figure 4”
Seated upright in the chair- Create a “figure 4” by drawing your LEFT ankle over your RIGHT knee. Lean forward into the stretch, place your LEFT arm over the LEFT leg to increase stretch…. Remember to BREATHE.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Begin in a “Runner’s lunge” with your RIGHT foot forward, hands on either side of the mat near the front of your foot. Relax your LEFT shin down on the mat, slowly drawing your trunk to the upright position, creating an “L” shape with your body. Hands are placed on RIGHT thigh OR raised up to the sky and slightly lean forward. Maintain a strong core and try your best NOT to lean or arch your back as it reduces the effectiveness of the stretch. Be careful getting out of this stretch.
Remember, the name of the game is to stretch what’s tight and strengthen what weak in order to improve mobility help restore balance. Listed below, are a few strengthening exercises which may be performed as 3 sets of 15 repetitions and can be modified accordingly.
Chin Tucks “El Novio Feo” or “The Ugly Boyfriend”
Funny story- when I was doing my clinical rotations, my instructor was telling a patient “imagine an ugly man (or woman) is trying to kiss you” and you physically will drawback, the name, was absolutely hilarious and stuck with me ever since.
Seated upright in a chair- Draw your chin back creating that dreaded double chin appearance. You may feel this in the back of your neck, great! Repeat! Remember- chin retracts and draws back, not down in flexion or up into extension.
Countertop Pushups w/ Rotations
It’s time to push up! Place both hands on a countertop, to your comfort-approximately shoulders width apart, step both feet back with heels on the ground, and make sure to maintain a neutral spine. Here, it is important to maintain the chin tuck, engage your core, and prevent your chest from dropping forward during the movement. Slowly come down, flexing then extending your elbows. Simultaneously, you will begin to open the chest and rotate to RIGHT side (neck in line w/ spine). At this time, we are rotating towards the RIGHT and the RIGHT shoulder blade is activated, elbow extended, thumbs facing up. Try to focus on rotating at the mid-back and return back to push up position- repeat!.
Sit to Stand -Squats
One of the most functional exercises EVER!
From seated position- Toes facing forward (press that big toe down into the ground), heels down and feet slightly back. It’s important to maintain a neutral spine, lookup, push up, nose over toes, and stand UP! In order to return to a seated position, step back, feel the chair at the back of your legs, bend at the hips while maintaining a neutral spine, reach back (if you have armrests), look up and SIT. (If you want to have FUN with this, time yourself and see how many you can do in a minute and let us know!)
Lying on a mat- Plant your feet on the floor shoulder-width apart with your hands to your side. Create a posterior pelvic tilt by drawing your belly button to the mat, creating a flat back on the mat. Imagine a bowl of soup on your belly and you’re tilting the bowl towards your chest. Next, engage your core (and maintain to prevent your back from arching), activate your glutes, and bring those hips high into the sky. There should be a straight line from your hip to your shoulder.
If you have questions or want more, please reach out as we are happy to help!