Most of us sit for long periods throughout the day. This can take a huge toll on our bodies and lead to chronic low back pain, tight hips, and forward posture, among other issues. Of course these issues will then affect all other areas of our lives, from everyday activities to workouts at the gym.
A great way to alleviate some of this tightness and also prevent injury is to incorporate self-myofascial release into your weekly routine. While there are a few ways of doing this, using a lacrosse ball is one of my favorites and also one of the most cost effective. A foam roller is a good starting point, but can’t get as deep as a lacrosse ball.
While stretching has benefits, myofascial release gets deeper into the connective tissue so it has much longer lasting and therapeutic effects. The fascia system in the body is intimately connected, so often you may experience release in an area that is not directly being released. For example, you may get relief of knee pain, when you release the hips, IT band and glutes.
A little warning though – it may not be very pleasant, but it is well worth the temporary discomfort.
Here are a few great stretching you can do on your own to release the common tight areas affected by too much sitting: glutes, hips, upper shoulders/neck area & mid back.
SELF MYOFASCIAL RELEASE WITH A LACROSSE BALL
Image 1 (Hip Release) is a release for the TFL (Tensor Fascia Latae), which is a hip flexor and becomes shortened and problematic from too much sitting.
Place the lacrosse ball, as if putting your hand in your jeans pocket if sitting down in a chair – the little grove area that is created just below the hip bone, when seated.
Lie on your side as shown, supported by your forearm. Opening the hips and stacking the feet as shown will help you have greater control of the pressure you allow in the area.
Image 2 (Glute Release) is a great way to release the piriformis. To hit it, roll the lacrosee ball towards the exterior portion of the glutes. The whole area including the gluteus medius, will likely be very tight and tender, so go slow and and make sure to use your breath.
Image 3/4/5 (Neck and Back Releases), place the lacrosse ball in the areas shown below and roll around a bit to find the most tight areas, once you find them apply pressure against the wall with your body weight.
With all stretches, make sure to take deep belly breaths. Hold each for about 5 deep breaths per area to begin with.
Along with myofascial release, it’s important to also begin changing your routine of constant sitting by adding simple daily movement into your day:
- Get off 1 stop early and walk to work
- Take the stairs
- Get up from your desk at least once an hour for 10mintes and walk around. This will pump blood into the spine and release the tension in the low back.
- Get a Swissball instead of a chair is also a great way to promote movement while sitting, because it requires both that you activate your core and work on balance.
Yours in health & fitness,