One of the consequences of being sedentary, and also being incredibly active, is back pain. About 31 million Americans experience lower back pain at any given moment. It’s a common affliction and one that takes care and diligence to eliminate.
– Muscle Imbalances – The front of your hips, your hip flexors, are the muscles that will tighten up and shorten while you are sitting for hours each day. While you are sitting, the back of your hips, your glutes, and your hip extensors, are being overstretched. But just due to the fact that they are being tightened up and stretched respectively, does not benefit either of them. They are also being weakened because of the lack of use of each muscle group.
– Back Discomfort – With overstretched glutes and hip extensors and tight hip flexors, your hips will begin to be taken out of place into a forward, unnatural tilt. This tilt and tight muscles will also begin to pull at the muscles in the lower back, among the most common grievances from those with badly tight hips.
– Poor Balance and Posture – Because the hip flexor is a major stabilizer of the pelvis when the hip flexors are weak, it can impair your balance as well as cause poor posture.
Taking time each day to extend out your hips can assist counteract the hours you invest sitting at a desk. Not to mention, increasing movement in your hips can also help increase your strength and power in your workouts.
Whether you experience stiffness, aches, or spasms, the following poses will help keep your back fit and strong.
1. Thread the Needle Pose
While lying on the back, keep your knees bent and feet on the floor. Like making a figure 4, the RIGHT ankle should be crossed over the LEFT knee. Then, your LEFT knee should be pulled in towards the chest, and the RIGHT hand should be threaded between your legs, while keeping your hips grounded as well as your lower back pressing into the mat.
Your hands should be clasped underneath the LEFT knee. Your hip can be actually stretched by keeping the RIGHT knee open. While breathing deeply, stay in this position for half a minute on each side.
2. Happy Baby Pose
Lay on the mat with your back down, and bring your knees close to your chest. Then, put your hands on the inside arches of your feet and open your knees wider than the width of your shoulders. Press your back into the math as much as you can, and then holding this position, press your feet into your hands while you pull down on feet, creating resistance. Inhale deeply and stay in this position for at least half a minute.
3. Butterfly Pose
Sit on your mattress and bend your knees. Place your hands by the mat. The soles of your feet should be placed together. The knees should be opened out to the side. Open the knees and bring them closer to the ground with the help of your leg muscles.
The stretch should be felt in the inner thighs. To make the stretch even more deep, pull the feet more toward you.
4. Frog Pose
This pose is very intense, so be careful not to hurt yourself. In order to do this, you need to get on all fours, your hands need to be under your shoulders and the knees on the mattress.
In a slow and gentle manner, make your knees wider so that you feel a comfortable stretch in the inner thighs. Your calves and feet need to be on the floor the entire time and the ankles need to be in line with the knees. If you can, try to lower down to the forearms and hold this position for 30 seconds at the minimum.
5. Half Pigeon Pose
The best way to get into this position is to start in a runner’s lunge with your RIGHT foot forward and both hands on the mat on either side of your front foot. With most of the weight in your hands, slide your front foot over towards your left hand, and lower the knee over to the right.
Place the outside of your right calf on the mat so that it is parallel to the front of your mat. Slowly lower your back knee and shin to the floor. Square your hips as much as possible to the front of the mat. For a more moderate stretch, keep your arms straight and hands flat on the floor.
To increase the stretch, you can lower down to your forearms, or even lower all the way down to lay over your front leg. You should feel the stretch on the outside of the RIGHT hip and in the glute. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. (If this pose feels too uncomfortable or hurts, stick with Thread the Needle.)
6. Double Pigeon Pose
Sit down on the mat and cross your legs, with your left leg crossed in front. Grab your left ankle using your arms to move, and gently pull the ankle to put it on top of the right knee. Stack the shins with your left leg on top.
In case that you have really tight hips, lift your right knee up off the floor a little, but as your hips open more, your knee will eventually lower. If you need this exercise to be more intense, walk your hands forward a bit to get deeper into the stretch. Remain like this for at least half a minute, and then repeat on the opposite side.
7. Low Lunge
Put the RIGHT foot forward as well as place the hands on your mat on either side of the front foot. Afterwards, your back knee and shin should be lowered to the mat and your arms and chest should be carefully lifted up, while resting the hands on the front thigh.
8. Crescent Lunge
This pose also begins with the runner’s lunge, but this time you would need to keep the knee raised. Gradually bring the hands off the mat and bring them to the front thigh. Let your hips sink lower as you open your hips square to the front of your mat.
Next, bring your arms up and overhead, and engage your abdominals while you do this. Concentrate on lengthening through the back leg and go on sinking and squaring off the hips to make the stretch deeper. Remain in this position for at least half a minute on each side.
Make sure you engage the abdominals and don’t let the back arch. This stretches can also be intensified by reaching your arms overhead, and leaning forward very slightly. Also, ensure not to arch your lower back. Stay in this position for around half a minute and repeat the same procedure on the opposite side.
Consider trying these stretches to feel more mobile and strengthen legs and hips.