If you have a desk-related job, you may know first-hand how stress and long sitting take their toll on your body and mind. Yoga can be so beneficial for stress relief, back health and general wellbeing that it is no wonder “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. This blog focuses on one pose in particular to counter the negative effects of sitting: releasing tight hip flexors can prevent back pain, hip pain and injury.
When you sit at a desk and on a computer all day, regular yoga can counter tightness (and the resulting pain) of neck, shoulders, back and hips. Moving through yoga poses will also improve blood circulation and oxygen intake, which increases energy and alertness. If you would like to know more about yoga for the workplace, do read my interview with the Therapy Directory here.
Some of my previous blogs have addressed posture and poses to counter forward rounded shoulders. This blog is dedicated to releasing the 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 not strong and they can easily become injured.
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.
Stretching the hip flexors
-Start on hands and knees
-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 and lower it back down. Repeat 3-5x
-Repeat this sequence with the left foot forward.
Rest in child’s pose after this or on your back with the legs bent.