Back pain is reported as the No. 1 claim for missing work and hits eight out of ten adults in the US, according to the National Institutes of Health. Sitting for more than a few hours can cause back pain and many people experience low back pain, but also pain in the hips, knees and feet. Sitting for more than 6 hours at a time was cited as a health risk as dangerous as smoking. Stretch breaks and walking just a few minutes each hour can help. And while standing intermittently throughout the day is a good idea, simple stretches can go a long way to help to eliminate joint pain.
Here are 5 key exercises to help reduce lower body aches in the feet, knees and hips and refresh your body for the day. The more often you stretch, the better you will feel.
Five Stretches to help with low back pain
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Using a towel place one foot into the center of the towel. Slowly pull the foot upward and toes towards the shins to stretch the back of the thigh and calf muscles. Hold for 8-10 counts then release. Repeat 2-3x then switch to the other side. Stretching the hamstrings and calf muscles helps to reduce pressure and pull on the lower back. These muscles should be targeted in your strength training regimen as tight muscles are usually weaker muscles.
Using a towel, place both feet into the center of the towel Slowly pull the feet upward and toes towards the shins to stretch the back of the thigh and calf muscles. Pump toes pointing and flexing the ankle for 10-12 times. Even without a towel this is a good stretch. Toe pumping is an excellent stretch exercise for long duration flights to help prevent deep vein thrombosis when traveling.
Using a towel place one foot into the center of the towel and slowly pull the foot upward and toes towards the shins to stretch the back of the thigh and calf muscles. Now rock or roll the ankle inward and outward (pronating and supinating) for 10-12 times. These ankle mobility stretches encourage movement through the middle joints of the foot. This helps with dispersing forces from walking, jumping or running.
Crossed leg seated stretch
Perform three different stretches in this seated position. First start with your back straight and upright. Hinge from the hips and lean forward to feel stretch around the hip joint and possibly the knee. Next, round the spine bringing your chin to your chest to feel the stretch in your lower back. Finally, lean forward while rounding the spine and press down into the knee to stretch both hips and back together. Hold each stretch position for 8-10 counts breathing throughout the stretch. Then repeat on the other side. You may find that one side is higher than the other. Side adding side and backward walking movements to your exercise regimen to strengthen these areas.
Hip Opening Balance Stretch
This stretch is done with your chair as a place for your foot but you may need another chair or wall nearby for balance. Place your foot on the seat of the chair while standing on the other leg facing away from the chair. Try to balance on one leg or hold onto the another chair or wall for support.. Then drop your body downward to feel the stretch in the front of the thigh and hips. Hold for 30 seconds. This stretch targets the hip flexors which are directly pulling the low back to towards the front in an arched back position. To release these muscles the stretch should be performed 6-8 times a day until relief is felt. Repeat on the other side. Remember to stand up frequently throughout the day and stretch at least once a day to open the body and feel your best. – Andrea Metcalf Andrea Metcalf is a health and wellness expert, best-selling author, certified Personal Trainer and trusted television personality with appearances on the NBC Today Show, Steve Harvey, and Oprah.com. She is the co-founder of ONYX Interactive, an at-home Pilates Reformer and Pilates inspired content provider. She is a regular contributor to Smart Lifebites. Her other stories include Maximize Your Walking Workout and What stretching can do for you.