Build a routine for improved flexibility and strength
Sedentary jobs should come with a warning label: may result in a bad back, tight hamstrings and hips, and weak core muscles.
Kirsten Scott, a retired massage therapist, explains desk jobs typically cause irritation in three muscles.
“The hip flexors—the front of the hip—gets shortened. The piriformis muscle [in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint] almost always is what causes the sciatic nerve to get irritated,” she says. You may also notice tightness in the psoas muscle, which wraps from the front of your spine into your hip. “You stand up and it spasms.”
The key, says Scott, is “stretching and also strengthening.”
If your muscles are feeling very inflamed and tight, it may be a good idea to start by taking a pain killer or muscle relaxant. Consult a doctor first to ensure this is a safe approach for your individual circumstance.
But when you’re able, take the time to stretch and ensure you have a quiet space. “Listening to your body is hard because we have too many distractions,” says Scott. “Take the five minutes and just focus on it.”
Don’t overstretch. “Push too hard and it gets irritated and inflamed,” Scott explains. “We can move more slowly.”
Stretch incrementally. “On the first day of stretching, stretch to where you can feel the tightness and ease off slightly; take three deep breaths and release. The next day, move to where you feel the tightness and take three deep breaths. The next day, push into the tightness.”
Stretching isn’t the entire solution, though. “If we’re stretching, we also need to strengthen. That’s where seeing a physiotherapist can be helpful.”
Incremental strengthening and building up fitness levels is equally important.
“When we move too quickly, we injure ourselves. Our soft tissue just cannot manage it. We want results, so we push it.”
The best way to ensure stretching and fitness becomes part of our life is to build a routine.
Try these stretches and exercises below (or online at ratcreek.org).
Featured Image: Stretching and strengthening is key to ensuring your desk job doesn’t cause you physical problems. | Image by ArtCoreStudios from Pixabay