Sitting Got Your Back in Knots?

By Dr. Michelle Millner, PT

We sit. A lot. And the pandemic has likely made your sitting situation worse. My experience is that people are sitting many more hours than they typically did pre-pandemic. This is causing all sorts of back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and even butt pain.

Our bodies are just not designed for sitting for prolonged periods of time. We were made to move! In fact, sitting has been equated to the new smoking. Prolonged sitting leads to decreased blood flow, poor posture and resultant aches and pains. The best way to fight the bad side effects of sitting is simply to move and stretch into the opposite directions.

Here are my 2 favorite anti sitting stretches.

Supine hip flexor stretch: Using a solid table or bed, lie on your back and slide all the way to the left. Hold your right knee to your chest as you gently lower your left leg towards the floor. You should feel a stretch across the front of your left leg and hip. Stay there for 30-90 seconds. Bring the left leg up and then move to the other side. Repeat on the other side.

ProTip: Have someone help push your leg down.

Foam roller extensions. Place a foam roller (or a thick rolled up towel if you don’t have a foam roller) horizontally on the floor. Sit in front of the foam roller and lie back so that the roller is across your shoulder blades. Keep your hands behind your head to support your head. Lie back keeping your buttocks on the floor and creating a big stretch through your ribs, upper back and chest. Rock up and down gently, or hold for 30 seconds as tolerated.

These stretches move your body into the exact opposite of sitting, which makes them GREAT anti-sitting stretches. I recommend doing these stretches EVERY DAY if you are a chronic sitter. It’s really important to give your body time to move and stretch. Keep in mind that StretchSource certified instructors are a great option if you are having a hard time doing these stretches on your own.