Sit at a desk all day? Try this one exercise recommended by a physio

This foam roller exercise can help improve blood flow and reduce pain caused by too much sitting down

Man using a foam roller to undo the damage of sitting
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have a desk job, chances are you're very aware of the pressures this places on your back, legs, hips, glutes and heart. 

Sitting down for prolonged periods is linked to a series of health problems that can be tough to mitigate outside of working hours. You might have one of the best treadmills or best exercise bikes at home to watch Netflix on the go, or you could be an avid gym-goer.

Research from the Jeju National University School of Medicine (opens in new tab) said: "Sedentary behaviors have wide-ranging adverse impacts on the human body including increased all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, cancer risk, and risks of metabolic disorders... musculoskeletal disorders such as arthralgia and osteoporosis; depression; and, cognitive impairment." 

So, how do you efficiently offset a sedentary lifestyle? According to physical therapist Brian Holden, you can help offset this damage by keeping your blood flowing with a foam roller targeting your quads. This gets the blood flowing to your lower body, and works the muscle connecting to your hips. Check out the move's description below:

Undo the damage of sitting with the exercise below:

  • Lie on your front, resting on your elbows. Both thighs should be resting on the roller, as in the image above.
  • Use your elbows to roll your body forward and backward, rolling from just above your kneecap to below your pelvis. You're using the weight of your own body to place pressure on your quads.
  • To target one leg, bring your other leg to your side.
  • For increased pressure, cross your legs so all your body weight is on one leg.

Foam roller exercises

(Image credit: Future)

Working your quads with one of the best foam rollers can have a number of benefits. Research from the journal Frontiers in Physiology (opens in new tab) found foam rolling could increase workout performance, flexibility and reduce muscle pain sensation. If you're experiencing aches and pains as a result of too much sitting down, foam rolling can help alleviate them in addition to increasing flexibility. 

Encouraging blood flow to your muscles can also help take pressure off your heart. Research found regular stretching, which encourages blood flow to your muscles in a similar way, can reduce arterial stiffness, which helps blood flow freely and reduces the risk of clotting. 

As we age, the risk of arterial stiffness increases and our flexibility decreases, making foam rolling and stretching even more important as we age, compounding the beneficial effects of this exercise. Simply grab a foam roller, clear some space in your front room and away you go. 

Matt Evans
News Editor

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.