As we know, prolonged sitting has many effects on the body, and so many people spend so many hours sitting! One common complaint is tightness and lack of mobility in the hips. When the body is positioned with the hips and knees at 90 degrees, the muscles in the front of the hip shorten and the posterior hip muscles (glutes) lengthen and become inefficient. There are a few simple exercises that can be done addressing both issues.
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- Foam rolling and mobility work has become a popular component of fitness for many people, and with good reason. When muscles are shortened or afflicted with trigger points (what many people call “knots”), they cannot be used efficiently. Foam rolling the front of the hip can help address the shortening of the hip flexor muscles that occurs with hours of sitting. It’s important to target the correct area: if you aim the foam roller just below the bony prominence at the anterior hip, you’ll begin to work into two of the hip flexor muscles, the TFL and the rectus femoris. Imagine where the front pocket of your jeans would be. Start there, and when you feel a tender spot, try to breath and sink into it for a few moments.
- Lengthening the front of the hip to counteract the sitting position is also helpful. Finding a low lunge position with one foot forward and the other knee on the floor, step the front foot out so the knee is stacked over the ankle. Gently lean your hips forward, and try to tuck the tailbone towards the front heel. A stretch sensation in the front of the back leg will be felt, and can be increased by bringing the chest upright and pulling the lower abdomen in. Hold for about 5 breaths on each leg.
- Finally, it is important to engage and activate the body in a way that balances the sitting position. When sitting for a long period of time, the glute muscles get “turned off” and stop doing their job of extending and pushing the hip forward in everyday activities like walking, running and stair-climbing. A simple bridging exercise is a great way to wake up and strengthen the glutes and hamstrings, while at the same time maintaining length in the anterior hip. Begin by laying on your back with knees bent, then tuck your tailbone and lift the hips only as high as you can maintaining tailbone tucked. Slowly lower to starting position by rolling through the spine. Repeat for 2 sets of 15.