We all know that when we go places, the potential is there to end up feeling like a giant knot that won’t come undone.
Sometimes the hours can just fly by and you don’t notice that you haven’t moved around lately. Or, perhaps you got stuck in the middle row on the plane, or you just wanted to keep driving to get to your destination.
The same thing can happen even if you have been conscientiously working at your desk, whether it’s at the office or at home.
I am sure that you have experienced the sluggishness and stiffness that comes along with these episodes. Instead of giving up and accepting that state of being for yourself, here are a few things you can think about and do.
When we sit a lot, there are some classic things that happen in our bodies.
- Because we are bent at the top of our legs, the muscles there can get shortened and tight (these are your hip flexor muscles).
- Most of us end up rounded to one extent or another. That puts a strain on the back of our necks (see my blog post, The Stats on Neck Pain), and the muscles at the front of our shoulders get short and tight.
- Just from sheer inertia, our leg muscles—front back, top and bottom—get tight. (calf muscles, hamstrings and quadriceps).
What to do? Well, most of these effects can be relieved by having a walk-about for at least 10 minutes, followed by a few key stretches.
But, while we are at it, here are a couple more things about how your body works. They may not be quite as obvious as your kinked up muscles, but the good news is that once you are aware, you can take action!
The first one is that your body is pretty much equipped and geared toward rotation. The vast majority of our muscles are aligned diagonally. Just to put it in perspective, that is why we humans can play all sorts of sports (think tennis and golf to name a few). On a more mundane level, even the above-mentioned walk-about is a lot more rotational than you might think.
So, yes, if you want to get unkinked, walking is good. If you want to take it to another level, do some torso twists, ankle circles, cross body reaches, shoulder circles, or windmill arms.
The second not-so-obvious thing is that your spine gets compressed from sitting around a lot. A compressed spine not only loses flexibility over time, but closing down the space between your vertebra can mean all sorts of pain.
A very cool way to counteract a compressed spine from too much sitting is the following (this comes from Pilates, by the way):
Stand tall. Really tall. Get in the best posture that you can and think of and extend your spine. If you need a visual for this, you can think of yourself as a marionette with a string going through the top of your head, pulling you up. Then, bring one of your arms straight up, placed by your ear, and reach for the ceiling. Keeping the arm there, bend your torso directly to the opposite side (if your right arm is up, bend to the left). Come on back, bring your arm down, and do the same thing on the other side. (see graphics). Alternate back and forth 10 times.
You will be amazed at how refreshing this can be, and you will have done yourself and your spine a big favor.
Give this one a try, and let me know how you like it. Or any other comments are welcome (below). Thanks!
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