If you have a desk-related job you know how tight your body can feel after a few hours of sitting. Also driving for a couple hours makes us feel like we are made from cardboard. Loosening up gently is important after both situations to prevent back and hip pain. Plenty of simple yoga practices can counter tightness. They will also improve blood circulation and oxygen intake, which increases energy and alertness. This blog focuses on one yoga practice that helps with releasing hip flexors. This set of muscles can get particularly tight after being held in a contracted position for hours.
Some of my previous blogs have addressed other muscle groups that get tight as a result of sitting at a desk, and for example focused on poses to counter forward rounded shoulders. This blog is dedicated to releasing tight hip flexors, as tight hip flexors can also lead to lower back pain. “Hip flexors” is a collective term for the different muscles (among which the major iliopsoas muscles) that contract when we lift a knee towards the chest. These muscles also allow us to bend forward from the hips. When sitting on a chair, the hip flexors remain in a contracted state and may become tight. They may also tighten when we run or walk a lot without stretching them. Tight, chronically contracted muscles are weak and they can easily become painful or cause an injury.
The exercise described below stretches the iliopsoas and other hip flexors and is good to do regularly. Start very gently, making sure you don’t overstretch, and when the exercise becomes more familiar, take the stretch to the extent that it feels “stretchy but nice”, never painful or burning. The amount of repetitions I give below is just a suggestion.
Releasing tight hip flexors
-Start on hands and knees. Warm up by doing a few cat and cow movements (see more about those here: https://beneyoga.co.uk/keep-your-back-mobile/.
-Place the right foot forward so it is straight under or a little in front of the right knee.
-With both hands on the right knee, bring the weight forward as you exhale.
-Inhale and return to the original position.
-Do this 5x times, slowly.
-Then, staying in the forward position, inhale and raise the right arm next to your head, exhale to lower it. Repeat 3-5x
-Repeat this sequence with the left foot forward.
Rest in child’s pose after this for a few breaths, or on your back with the legs bent.
Yoga for the workplace
Yoga can be very beneficial for stress relief, back health and general wellbeing and it is no wonder that “yoga for the workplace” is becoming increasingly popular. If gentle, adapted and practical, yoga can be a cost-effective means for a company to boost its productivity. To find out more about yoga for the workplace, visit: https://beneyoga.co.uk/yoga-for-the-workplace/.
If you would like to know more about yoga for back pain or to counter a sedentary lifestyle, you can contact me here: https://beneyoga.co.uk/book-a-free-consultation-call/.