Does your back hurt? Try these two exercises to fix it (INSTANTLY!)
It’s often said that we need to ‘learn how to sit correctly’ but what does this mean? What exactly are we doing wrong, and how can we can we fix it?
Well, okay, so here’s what we know: extended sitting can lead to anterior pelvic tilt. What’s this? Just a fancy way of saying your pelvis leans too far forward, which in-turn causes your spine to curve too much – and this combination throws all of the muscles in the area out of balance.
Okay, that sounds simple enough – “to fix it, all I have to do just sit back in my chair, right?” and yes, this will make a difference, however what we really need to do is find ways to strengthen the muscles in the area so that they stay in the right spots all on their own. The good news is that with a two-step attack plan (that can be done in just 10 minutes) we are going to be able to fix this muscle and joint imbalance once and for all.
First, we will focus on the pelvic tilt. The muscles that pull your pelvis forward are called hip flexors, these sit around your hips and help (mostly) with mobility in the area. Staying seated for too long, however, can impair this mobility by causing the flexors to adaptively shorten, and this shortening will cause the muscles to pull/hold the pelvis forward all the time – even when you don’t want them to. This pulling leads to tightness in the hip, excessive bending in the lower back, and weakness in the muscles on the opposite side of the joint.
To get around this, the first exercise you’re going to do is the half-kneeling hip flexor stretch. It looks like this:
And will help lengthen and strengthen the tight hip flexor muscles by extending and stretching them forward, causing them to return to its normal position (AKA not pulling your pelvis forward all of the time).
- Step your left leg out in front of you and lunge until your right knee is resting on the ground. Once in position, your left leg should make a 90-degree angle at your knee.
- Bring your pelvis forward by tightening your gluteus (bum) and abdominal muscles.
- Lean forward from your right leg until you feel tension in the hip flexor and inner thigh of your right leg
- Hold for 30 seconds, release, and repeat up to 5 times and then switch legs.
A walk through like this is fine, but how do you know if you’re doing it correctly? Well, while this one won’t hurt like the stretches we remember from high school, but you will feel a slight tension in your groin (right at the fold where your legs and abdomen meet) – exactly where the hip flexors sit.
Okay, so that one is easy – next up is the glutes (your bum). As we said, the tight hip flexors cause relative weakness in the opposite muscles. In response to this weakness, the lower back attempts to kick in and help out, which isn’t always good, as it compromises the strength of the back. So what we need to do is strengthen the gluteus so that your back will stop compromising itself by picking up the slack.
To target this, you’re going to want to do a bridge. It will improve strength in both the gluteus and abdominals, while conveniently disengaging the hip flexors. It looks like this:
And it’s super easy to perform:
- Lie flat on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart, arms by your sides.
- Push your heels into the floor as you lift your pelvis up off the floor until your upper body and thighs form a straight line.
- Hold the top of the motion for 2 seconds before lowering down slowly
- Repeat for 3 sets of 8 reps
While at the top of this motion, be sure to consciously squeeze your bum, and make sure that you only extend up as far as parallel (see the photo for reference) as any farther will hyperextend the lower back and cause more strain in the area.
So there you have it, a few small things that you can do to combat the ailments of sitting. These can be done 3 – 5 times a week (or every day if your back actively hurts), at any time of the day that you have a spare 10 minutes. If you would like to learn more ways to combat sitting – or work – related posture imbalances, or just have a general question about health and fitness, you can contact one of the trainers at our club for a free personal training session by following the link below and entering your details.
Keifer has been in the fitness industry for over 10 years, having had extensive experience in all areas ranging from bodybuilding, to weight loss, injury rehab; functional & sports specific training; group fitness as well as specialised diet & nutrition programming.