Sitting down can seem unavoidable nowadays, with modern life calling for long stints at our desks, behind the wheel or watching TV.
Prolonged periods on your rump can have pretty serious health ramifications too, raising your risk of obesity and diabetes while leaving you with weaker glutes and tight hips.
Luckily, there are ways to combat these adverse effects. Stretching routines like this four-move mobility session from Cody Mooney, director of performance at fitness app Pliability, can add a little extra movement into your day while soothing and strengthening underused joints and muscles.
"I often find that hips are one of the tightest areas for most people," he told Fit&Well. "With desk jobs resulting in sitting down for most of the day, practicing mobility flows and exercises is a great way to help loosen and stretch out any tightness, allowing you to move more freely.”
Read on to find out more about the four moves you'll be doing, and how they can help loosen your lower body.
1. Dragon pose
- Step into a lunge, with your back knee resting on the floor.
- Reach both hands upwards and, at the same time, push your hips forwards.
- You should feel a stretch in the hip flexor (the front of the hip) of the kneeling leg.
- Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, then repeat this on the other leg.
- Repeat this two further times on either side of your body.
Why you should do this pose: "The average adult sits for six-and-a-half hours per day, which isn’t great on the hips," says Mooney. "Practice dragon pose daily to ensure your hips and quads are mobile and released, avoiding any tightness. "
2. Couch stretch
- Kneel in front of a box or couch.
- Reach one leg behind you and rest the top of the foot and shin against the box or couch.
- Step your other foot forward into a lunge position. The knee of this leg should be at about a right angle.
- Lift your chest so your torso is upright, then push your hips forward to feel a stretch in the quad and hip flexor of the rear leg.
- Hold this for 60-120 seconds then repeat, reaching the opposite leg behind you this time.
Why you should do this pose: "Couch stretch is a little awkward to get into, but it's a great hip-opener," Mooney explains.
3. Pigeon pose
- Begin on all fours.
- Bring your right knee towards your right wrist and lay it on its side, bending your leg so your knee is at a right angle and your calf is on the ground running underneath your body.
- Extend your left leg backwards until it is almost straight.
- Square your hips and lean your chest towards the ground.
- If you feel pressure in your knee, bring your back leg closer to your body.
- Spend 60-120 seconds in this pose, pushing your chest gently towards the floor for 10 seconds at a time before releasing, then repeat on the other side of your body.
Why you should do this pose: "Pigeon pose is one of the best stretches to counterbalance tight hips," according to Mooney. "It will help release the hips and lower back muscles, improving flexibility and decreasing tension in these areas."
4. Child's pose
- Kneel on the ground with your knees about hip-width apart and your toes together.
- Lower your chest towards the ground in front of you, extending your arms forwards as you do so.
- Rest your arms on the ground in front of you, then hold this position for 30-60 seconds.
Why you should do this pose: "This resting pose puts you into a position that elongates your body and helps release tension throughout the whole body, including your lower back and shoulders, as well as the hip flexors," says Mooney.
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Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.
Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.
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