If you're like me... you work hard during the day.
And the work you do probably puts your body in the same position over and over again.
For most of us... that's in a seated position.
But even if you're standing or walking around all day... you're still put into the same positions. For example, when you stop to rest... notice the position you're in.
Hip popped... you probably lean into the same leg most of the time.
These positions whether seated or standing with your hips popped out in poor posture... create repetitive muscle patterns causing muscle shortness... knots... and limited range of motion.
I'm going to help you with 5 exercises (and some bonuses) to focus on the sitting position.
What Goes Wrong When You Sit A Lot?
Muscles such as the:
These are all resting in a shortened position all day long.
Have you ever done a farmers carry... or squeezed your finger for 60 seconds with a tight fist?
Then you try to open your hand.
It's really hard... it's like your hand is stuck in that position.
Very similar to the repetitive sitting position or standing position.
These muscles are in the same position day... after day... month after month... year after year...
Of course they'll be tight and more or less stuck in a shortened position.
When they're inhibited from taking their full length... say when you're standing...
They tug on your hips tilting your hips forward.
Your hips tug your back and hamstrings causing pain... and this goes through your entire body.
A Big Idea
This is going to happen regardless of what you do. It's our world and as humans we fall into repetitive bad posture... it's human nature.
You can't beat it but you can make it worse... like by using those stupid posture devices.
Why are posture devices HORRIBLE for you?
They completely disengage the muscles that should be doing work... making them weaker and weaker.
When you take your little brace off... your posture crumbles from weak muscles. You will be in MORE pain because you're body is weak.
It's like putting yourself in a cast and atrophying your body on purpose.
Don't ever use devices like this.
5 Easy Exercises To Restore Range of Motion
Your TFL - Tensor Fascia Latte... it's right here...
It's right where the trigger ball is.
This is a muscle that is connected to your IT band... if you're a runner... you've definitely heard of this ligament before.
If you have knee pain... this is one muscle you should focus on.
I'm not saying this is the source of your pain... but it is high on the list of possibilities.
The reason is your TFL is the muscles that pulls on your IT band... so if the TFL is tight... it will pull more on the ITL band and your IT band is connected to your knee.
It's very possible you might find immediate relief from smashing and rolling your TFL.
Plus smashing your TFL will help restore hip alignment and that will help your back. A double whammy!
In this post we are only going to cover smashing your TFL.
There are ways to stretch it, but that is for another post.
Here's what to do:
Find your hip joint... the actual ball and socket joint.
Move an inch towards the front of your body...
Then an inch up towards the top of your body...
This is the approximate area where your TFL muscle is...
Take your trigger ball up against a wall and start pressing in HARD.
Search around a little and explore the area. This is not an exact science... but if you feel a tight muscle pain... STOP... and press in harder.
Focus on the spots that feel painful and tight.
Hold each of these spots for a minimum of one minute.
Start here and in a later post I'll show you some advanced ways to get deeper into this muscle.
Knee Into Wall Stretch
This is also called the couch stretch. Kelly Starrett coined this term... a great trainer.
This is a great stretch because it targets your rectus femoris... your vastus intermedius... and your sartorius.
These are the major muscles of the front of your thigh... restore length to these and you'll feel incredible.
If you have a tight back... this stretch is for you!
Here's version 1... the harder version.
You need a wall and maybe a blanket or small pad... put your blanket in the corner of the wall and floor.
Take one knee and push in into the corner of the floor and wall... the shin of this leg is right up against the wall.
If you can... and I stress... if you can... take your opposite leg out in-front of you so the foot is on the ground.
It's as if you were taking a knee.. but your back leg has it's shin pinned in place by the wall.
Ideally you want to get all the way up so you back is against the wall... but this is very tough and advanced.
Start with just your hands on the ground and your upper body hunched over your front thigh.
Even I am struggling in this last position. I can't get my back to the wall.
This is a major problem in my own body... I suffer from a pretty severe forward hip tilt.
Let's look at the easier version.
You need a couch... chair... or box to do this. If you're using a chair... put it against the wall so it doesn't move backwards as you put your weight into it.
Take one knee and put it into the very back corner of the couch or chair... the corner where the seat meets the back rest.
Your other leg is going to be on the floor in-front of you.
You'll notice you're standing... one leg out front... the other leg is on the couch or chair... shin pinned against the back rest.
Now stand up tall with your torso and you'll feel a big stretch in the front of your quad of the back leg.
The stretch is felt in the back leg and straight up the quad. It's intense or it can be very intense.
Listen to your body when you're doing these intense and tough stretches.
Don't hurt yourself.
For the knee into the corner of the wall stretch... if you can't get your torso all the way up... don't worry about it.
Start bent over with your hands on the ground or leaning over if you're doing the stretch with a box.
Listen to your body and keep repeating... you will restore a full range of motion.
The word smash should tell you right away... you need a trigger ball.
And a smash means we'll be pressing into a muscle and not moving.
Your psoas... (there's actually a major and minor version)... is a forgotten muscle. It never gets the attention it deserves.
It connects in your hips and go all the way up... deep in your abdomen... connecting to your spine.
When it flexes... it crunches your torso and hips together... so you can imagine when it's tight... it can cause havoc on your back and front of the hips.
Smashing it is easy if you have the right tools... i.e. an Alpha Ball by Jill Miller and a yoga block... book... or something to help elevate the trigger ball.
Put your trigger ball on the yoga block (lowest setting) on the floor.
Lay on the trigger ball so it's smashing into your stomach... place the ball off the side of your belly button.
Try to relax as the trigger ball goes deep into your abdomen.
Do your best to lay there... 60 seconds per side of your belly button.
You might feel some queezy discomfort as you smash your psoas... maybe even real pain.
The more your do this... the more you'll start to restore fully length to your psoas muscle. You'll probably begin feeling more mobility in your low back... and hopefully less tightness and pain as well.
Oblique Stretches and Smashes
I am going to give you a few different exercises to try.
But as we sit (or even stand) our oblique muscles... our QL (quadratus lumborum which sounds like a Harry Potter magic spell)... ours lats...
They all get compressed throughout the day.
This can also cause these these muscles to tug on our ribs, making it easier to tweak your intercostal muscles... the muscles in-between our ribs.
If you're ever tweaked these before... you'll know because it hurts every time you breath.
They can and will cause major issues in your back as well.
Grab your trigger ball (Alpha ball is the best). Place it right in-between the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips.
Try to relax your muscles and press into the ball on a wall. Notice where things hurt and feel tight.
Hold each smash for 60 seconds per side... you can go longer if you feel like it's really helping.
Childs Pose Side Stretch
Get in child's pose with your knees wide and big toes touching.
Reach your arms out in front of you and then take them as far as you can to one side of your body... reaching the most with the "outside" arm.
Take your head and look under your arms and lean into the side stretch.
Hold at least 60 seconds per side.
Make sure, as you reach, you keep your butt cheeks on your heels. If you feel the opposite butt cheek from the direction you're reaching come off your heels... back off on the reach.
This is a favorite of mine for getting a side stretch and hamstring stretch as well.
You need a box... the back of a couch... a counter top or something high to put your leg.
Place your leg on your box laterally with your toe pointed straight to the sky.
You might feel a good opening stretch in the front of your hips... but you should definitely feel your hamstrings as well.
Reach the outside arm up the sky and side bend over your stretched out leg.
You'll look like a ballerina... but you'll also get an amazing side stretch.
Look up and under your outstretched arm for a deeper side stretch.
Hold this for at least 60 seconds per side.
Do this one on a regular basis... a couple times per day... for a few weeks... and your body will feel so much better.
Foam Roller Side Stretch
This is a stretch I discovered on my own when just messing around.
Take a foam roller and place it above your knee on the lateral side of your body.
Hold yourself up with your one arm and let your hips sink deep towards the ground. You'll feel a pretty good side stretch... just listen to your body.
These stretches are just the tip of the ice burg... but good ones you can easily do with little equipment.
Your QL... quadratus lumborum... is a crazy muscle.
It attaches to your hips... your spine... and your rib cage. So when this muscles gets tight... which it does when you site a lot and stand with poor posture...
All sorts of bad pains happen... typically in your lower back.
You will need a soft(ish) trigger ball... a bigger one... the Alpha ball is perfect of this... and here's what to do:
Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
Barely tuck the trigger ball under your body between the top of your hips and the bottom of your rib cage.
Lay your arms out to the side and keep your shoulders on the ground.
Rotate your knees over to the side that has the trigger ball.
Let your hips rotate all the way over and on top of the ball.
If you have a tight QL muscle... you'll feel a pretty intense pain.
Breath... and smash this muscle for at least a minute before you change sides.
This is a great smash and if you do this three to four times per day... you'll discover a lot of your back pain goes away.
Pair this with the knee into the wall stretch and the psoas smash... and you'll feel like a brand new person.