“Notice the stiffest tree is easily cracked but the bamboo survives by bending with the wind.”
Back Pain & Joint Stiffness
Dear Past (Pain-Full) Self,
The More I Stretch The Less I Ache
The more time you spend stretching the less pain you have. I understand that life happens and you slowly stop stretching as much but what happened when you stop? The pain is more present wasn’t it?
That’s because low back pain is a spine AND hip problem.
The muscles surrounding your pelvis are known as your hips which are composed of your glute muscles (minimus, medius, and maximus), groin muscles (adductor brevis, longus, magnus, pectineus and gracilis), hip flexors (iliopsoas, sartorius, and rectus femoris), and hamstrings (biceps femoris and semimembranosus).
When these muscles get tight guess what they do? They do what muscles do: they pull on bones!
So, when your hips get tight they pull on the pelvis in whichever direction/angle that you are most tight, depending on which imbalances you carry. Nonetheless, without going into too much minutia about which imbalances you have I’ll just give you a very simple stretch that can undo lots of the damage that sitting does to your hips. Here it is:
The Couch Stretch
The Couch Stretch is important because the main muscles that gets tight during sitting are the hip flexor complex. Imagine if you were stuck walking in a right angle for 8 hours, that would not feel good. Essentially, that’s what sitting does to your body.
Sitting wrecks your body, especially your hips
By now you’ve probably spent so much time sitting that you feel like you’ll never get out of back pain. According to PRNEWS “Americans are sitting an average of 13 hours a day…”That’s quite a bit of sitting folks….holy crap….So, do this stretch to avoid furthering the pain and tightness that sitting causes on your precious body. If you only did one stretch EVER, this is that stretch. Do it everyday my friend, please, for the sake of your booty.
Personally, I have experienced a DIRECT correlation between the amount of time I spend sitting and…
…the amount of back pain I have. The more I sit (especially driving) the more I hurt. Sitting is a FLEXED position. Your hip flexors are the main muscles being flexed. Imagine if you were to flex your biceps for 13 hours a day…whoa…that would be painful. That’s essentially what you’re doing to your hip flexors.
On top of that you are also sitting on your ass, literally.
This causes those muscles to eventually shut off, which means that your butt isn’t working properly during movements like squatting. When that happens your body compensates and uses other muscles to engage that movement pattern. Eventually, you result in dysfunctional movement patterns and ultimately = more pain. It’s a vicious circle I tell ya!
How does one avoid this cycle of death??
Avoid prolonged sitting and do the COUCH STRETCH once a day. Sometimes you simply cannot avoid it no matter what. So, here’s how to do that single stretch that will undo the tightness, and thus the pain which sitting has bestowed upon your sexy hips. Once again, it’s called the COUCH STRETCH, so you surely won’t forget it.
Here’s how to do it:
- Find a wall, couch, or any corner anywhere that you can stick your knee into.
- Get down on both knees and place both knees into the crack of the wall, between the wall and the floor.
- Tighten your butt (this causes your hip flexors to relax and stretch, because when one muscle tenses the opposite muscle relaxes).
- Keep one knee down into that crack and bring your other knee up towards your chest. Your foot of that leg should be planted firmly on the ground.
- Tighten the butt on the leg that’s being stretched (the knee that’s down in the crack), and keep your abs engaged. Make sure your knee, hip, and rib cage are in a straight line.
- Breathe in through your nose and out thru your mouth, deeply and calmly.
- If it’s so tight it feels like its tearing then what you can do is tighten your butt for 2 seconds and let go for 2 seconds, while pushing your hip into the ground like a rope is pulling your hip forward.
- Keep your hands on the ground. After a little you can close the distance between your butt and back foot.
- Little by little your hip flexor will loosen up.
- Hold for 2 minutes each side (minimum)
A working muscle is not a stretching muscle.
Remember to breathe deeply and try to relax. Also, keep your butt tight most of the time on the stretching leg, and keep your abs engaged so you don’t get into bad habits of over-extension. Do this as often as you have pain because no one likes pain…conquer it to gain!
The more time you spend stretching your hips out the less aches and pains you’ll carry around with you as you go about your life. It’s stiffness in the pelvic-lumbar system that causes problems, especially in the long run. So, use this simple yet effective stretch to reduce your pain to gain pleasure!
Do the Couch Stretch!
Your Future (Pain-Free) self