Are you a desk jockey? Do you spend most of your day sitting or hunched over a computer or laptop? According to a report from CNN, sitting all day may actually be killing you, or at the very least, could be taking years off of your life. When you sit, especially for long periods of time, your body slowly becomes more hunched over. Your internal organs get compacted and are forced to operate in less than ample space. Over time, the spine begins to weaken because of the unnatural stress placed on the joints. Hip muscles and joints begin to shorten and become tight, making standing up straight less comfortable. Ultimately, the body’s blood circulation decreases due to lack of movement. This is partially why legs and ankles will also swell during long stationary periods. The point is alarmingly clear: if you sit for long periods of time during the day, you could actually be doing your body some real harm.
The great news is that there are simple foam rolling exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home that can help your body heal, which all take less less than 15 minutes total. Grab a foam roller or a mobility ball (like a lacrosse ball) and try out these three exercises.
If you’re sitting on your butt all day, you need to give it some love. Most people don’t realize that rolling out your glutes will help you loosen more than just your butt muscles. You’ll also loosen your upper hamstrings and help remove some pressure from your lower back.
How to do it: Place a mobility ball, or a lacrosse ball under your glute muscle on one side. Rotate the ball until you find a tight spot or “trigger point”. Contract and release the muscle (basically squeeze your butt cheek and release it) for two minutes. Keep your legs bent with the knees out to the side.
Like I mentioned earlier, when you sit for long periods of time, the hip muscles (including the quad and hip flexors) slowly shorten and become tighter. Tight hips make it really uncomfortable to stand up straight, and the tight joint puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on the lower back. Stretch out and open up the hips by focusing on the hip flexors.
How to do it: Laying on your side, put the foam roller on the upper outside of your leg – near your hip. Roll the foam roller and knead it into the muscle tissue, fascia and tendon between your knee all the way up to your hip. Continue back and forth.
This simple movement is one of my favorites because it helps counteract the “dreaded hunchback syndrome” so many people get from hunching over their computers every day. A great added benefit: part of this movement passes over the shoulders so you are able to help release tension that has built up throughout the week.
How to do it: Lay on your back with your knees bent and your heels close to your butt. Position the foam roller just above your shoulder blades. Look straight up and give yourself a hug. Feel the stretch in your back as you hold the position and roll the foam roller down to your lower back and back to between your shoulder blades. Repeat for the duration of the movement. If you’re still not sure about each of these movements, find an app like MoveWell that will guide you through each movement in the mobility workout, step-by-step, or head over to these tutorials on YouTube: Glute Stretches Hip Stretches Thoracic Spine Stretches