Are you a weekend warrior, sitting working all day Monday to Friday then exercising hard at the weekend?
In the modern world, society has forced us to lead a more sedentary life than our past generations. This has massive implications for our body’s flexibility and mobility among other things.
What are flexibility and mobility and how do they affect you?
Mobility refers to the ability for the joint to move.
Flexibility refers to the length of the muscles and tendons.
This is good to know, as when we are trying to loosen up the hips, we need to loosen both the joint and the muscles and tendons.
Both of these are extremely important for people who have sedentary jobs but wish to lead very active lives outside of work with running, cycling, gaelic football rugby or even just for the short season of tag rugby with the folk from work.
When we sit all day the structure’s at the front of our hips are in a shortened position. Now, if you’re sitting 20 mins and then moving regularly it’s not a problem, but when you’re sitting for 8+ hours a day this can have a big impact on how well your hips move. Those muscles and tissues at the front of the hips tighten, which can compress the hip ball (femoral head) into the socket (acetabulum).
So what happens with the body due to these tight structures?
It can lead to something called hip impingement (medical word for pinching), causing you pain in the groin or front of hip. It can also lead to all sorts of problems from knee, hip and leg pain to lower back pain.
But it’s not just desk workers that suffer, commuting to work and studying can also take its toll on your hips. Surprisingly, those that cycle to work then sit all of the day can still have tight hips- the cycling is great, it’s exercise! But it is still sitting and keeps the hips tight.
BUT it isn’t all doom and gloom! Your body is an AMAZING MACHINE! You just need to look after it and it will look after you.
- Move more! Exercising 3 hours per week can conteract the bad effects of sitting. But anything is better than nothing! Start by going for a walk at lunchtime. Move in your chair regularly – roll your shoulders, move your wrists, turn your body in the chair, roll your pelvis forwards and backwards, stand up for a moment then sit back down again!
- Good seating – low seating squashes the hip and makes it tighter. Make sure your hips aren’t lower than your knees when you are sitting.
Below are 4 stretches which massively improve your range of motion in your hips. I must stress these are for people who DO NOT HAVE PAIN. If you are experiencing the symptoms described above please consult your physiotherapist before starting these stretches.
I would recommend these stretches for anybody, even those who don’t have sedentary jobs. Each stretch must be held for a period of 10 deep slow breaths and each side. Breathing helps relax the body and ease into the stretch better. Make sure you ease gently into each stretch.
- Lizard stretch:
For this stretch just get into position, keep chest up high, do not look at the ground. Feel this stretching the hip and groin on the left, and the front of the hip/thigh on the right. Do for both sides.
Remember to do the stretches on both sides.
These stretches can be uncomfortable but are not designed to cause pain. If you have pain please discontinue.