Whether you sit at home all day or you have a job that requires you to be behind a desk, everyone needs to get up and stretch. From sore backs to a pre-existing injury causing you to favor one side, there are certain corrective stretches that anyone can benefit from.
Between my injuries and my extra sedentary lifestyle, I've picked up a few mobility drills and stretches that help me. From tight hips to sore upper backs, there's something you can do to correct it.
Our training habits also make a huge difference in our posture and what muscles need more attention.
Training chest and arms without hitting back properly will cause a tight chest. This tight chest rolls your shoulders forward and ruins your posture.
Sound familiar? It's pretty common.
Common Posture Mistakes
The most common mistakes we make generally come from being unaware what it does to your posture. From slumping in a chair to hovering your head over your phone all day, sitting and maintaining poor posture leads to pain all over your back.
Some of the most common posture mistakes include:
- Slouching in your chair
- Leaning on one leg
- Hunching over your phone or computer keyboard
- Rounding your shoulders
While there are more things that cause bad posture and muscle imbalances, these are the main offenders. Simply sitting in a chair for extended periods of time wreck your hips and glutes. Below I will go over corrective stretches that I currently use, why I use them, and what it fixes.
While all of these stretches won't immediately fix anything, with persistence and a routine set in place, you'll be able to notice a difference within 2 weeks. So let's dive into these corrective stretches and mobility drills.
Corrective Stretches You Must Try
Many of these stretches may be difficult to perform due to being immobile and needing work. Never stretch something to where there is pain, a slight stretch is all you need to slowly work these muscles loose.
Using a foam roller and other body tempering methods may also be needed.
Let's go over some corrective stretches and movements for your upper body.
#1 - Standing Wall Stretch. Stretching your abs, chest, and shoulders along with strengthening your back muscles makes this exercise handy. Place both hands on a wall.
Walk your feet back so that you can slowly pull your head through your arms, causing a great stretch. Keep your shoulder blades back and avoid shoulder impingement.
#2 - Low-Back Hand Clasp. A stretch I have to work on daily, the low-back hand clasp helps stretch out overdeveloped shoulders and helps get mobility back into your upper body. This exercise is basic, place both hands behind your back and clasp them together.
Slightly arch your back as if someone put ice down your shirt, retract your shoulder blades, and practice great posture. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat five more times daily.
Can't reach your arms together without pain? Use a towel and walk your hands in as you get more mobile.
#3 - Thoracic Extension. Practicing thoracic extension multiple times throughout the day will strengthen your back, stretch tight muscles, and improve your posture. You will feel sore in the middle of your back due to using inactive weak muscles.
To practice this, tighten your back muscles and maintain perfect posture. If you have a foam roller, laying on it with the roller just under your shoulder blades, stretch your arms straight above your head and extend your back.
This provides a great stretch and allows your spine to become more mobile. Repeat this throughout the day, holding for at least 15 seconds at a time.
#4 - Pec Stretch. Stretching your pec and pec minor will help for people who are hunched over a desk or phone all day.
Our muscles shorten and tighten in our chest while our back muscles weaken and get stretched. This causes the slumped over look that a lot of us get. This particular move helps with mobility in bench and helps keep your shoulders safer since we are able to get into a more mechanically sound position.
Take one arm and bend at your elbow, similar if you were yelling "touchdown!" Place your arm on a doorframe, power rack, or a pole. Slowly stretch your pec, being careful not to go too far too fast.
Hold this position for 20 seconds and repeat 3 times.
The lower body will take some more work than your upper body due to the sheer size of the muscles. Spend time working these corrective stretches and you will notice pain-free movement in no time.
#5 - Sitting Indian Style. Absolutely the hardest lower body stretch that I still work on, sitting Indian style, or the Lotus Pose for Yoga enthusiasts, is helpful for tight hips.If you notice yourself placing most of your weight on one leg or have tight hips, this will be beneficial to try.
I still can't sit comfortably in this pose, but my overall hip health and movement has improved. Sit on the floor and cross your legs. More than likely your knees will be pointing up and you will feel tension in the outer part of your hips. Gently place your hands on your knees and provide an extra stretch.
Do these every day for three sets of 30 seconds.
#6 - Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch. This is the second hardest stretch for me due to inflexibility.
Get into a lunge position, leaving your knee touching the ground. Keep your pelvis level and lean forward until you feel a stretch in your quad and hip flexors.
Hold for 30 seconds and repeat for three sets. Switch legs and repeat.
#7 - Glute Bridge. Sitting all day makes our glutes inactive. If you've ever read any other article talking about glute activation, this is what they are talking about.
Glute bridges are easy to do anywhere, especially at home. It takes no equipment to do and anyone can benefit. Lie flat on your back and bend your knees so that your feet are hip-width apart and flat. Place your arms by your side and push your heels into the floor.
As your pelvis rises, find the sweet spot that you can hold and get a great contraction.
Hold for 3 seconds, slowly lower, and repeat.
#8 - Goblet Squats With A Pause. Quite frankly, this exercise is a great quad builder, strengthens your core, and really lets those hips open up. Doing these along with sitting Indian style will allow you to free up your hips and alleviate everyday pain.
Wrapping It Up
Just with the years of sitting, doing these movements will take some time to reverse the effects of long-term sitting. Poor posture, our jobs, and being unaware of maintaining a proper posture all can lead to pain and a less-than-aesthetic figure.
Along with aesthetics, your performance will be impacted. I suffer from rolled and slumped shoulders and bench press has always been a painful and weak lift for me. Get your body straightened out (literally) and get to making some gains.