Do you suffer from lower back pain? Tight hips from sitting all day? Hamstrings so tight you can’t touch your toes? Whether you have one of all of these symptoms now is the time to do something about it. Lower back stretches at work can help!
According to Joan Vernikos, former NASA scientist, sitting for prolonged periods of time leads to back soreness. This is caused by muscle deterioration, nerve damage, rounding of the upper back, and lumbar disc compression. Sitting is inevitable but back pain from sitting is preventable.
For many executives our job likely requires us to be seated for the majority of the day, so by implementing lower back stretches at work, we can help stop the effects of this.
To stretch the lower back, we must first realize why there is pain or tightness there. This could be from compressed discs in the low spine or, it could be from tight muscles in the hips and legs. Likely, it is a combination of both.
To help combat this in the office setting we can use a standing desk. As executives, most of our day is spent seated performing our daily tasks.
By utilizing a standing desk, we can continually strengthen and tone muscles, support the spine by counteracting pressure on the spinal discs. Standing desks can improve posture and any low back issues that may stem from it.
But, you can also do some easy lower back stretches at work, you can even do them right at your desk!
1. Toe Touch
A great stretch for the lower back and hamstrings and can be done seated or standing!
When the hamstrings are tight they start to pull on the muscles of the lower back and create tension and/or pain. Start by taking off your jacket to allow yourself some relaxation.
Begin in a standing position and slowly hinge at the hips reaching for the toes. Try to keep the spine long and not round at the shoulders. Take five deep breaths here.
Try doing this (or any low back stretch) before an important meeting or presentation, you’ll be surprised by how much this lower back stretch at work can help calm stressful feelings.
2. Seated Twist
Twists are a great stretch for the upper and lower back. They can release tension in tight muscles and relieve some discomfort from sitting.
Sit up tall in your chair, bring your left hand to rest on the outer right knee, right hand comes to the right hip or armrest. Inhale and sit up a little taller to lengthen the spine, exhale and gently twist toward the right side looking out over the right shoulder. Continue for five deep breaths. Repeat on opposite side.
*Pro tip- Make this stretch even more effective by adding heat!
Try a heated neck and back massager that goes right in your office chair and you can turn on whenever you need some additional relief. Adding some heat to stretches is great because it helps the muscles relax and open.
3. Side Bend
This stretch helps to lengthen the low back and side muscles that become cramped from sitting and slouching at our desks.
Inhale and reach the right arm up and over the head slowly bending to the left, left arm hangs by your side. Take five deep breaths.
Don’t bend too far or else more tension will be put on the lower spine!
Repeat on opposite side. This can be done standing or seated.
4. Quad Stretch
Don’t forget to stretch the front of the body! Tight quads and hip flexors can create tension and pain by pulling on the low back muscles. Standing, ground into the left foot and start to pull right heel up towards your glute (can have left hand on the desk for balance). Continue for five breaths and switch sides.
5. 90 Degree Lat Stretch
Place hands on desk or table at work, take a step backward as you bend forward with hands still on the desk. Continue moving feet backward until hips are stacked directly over heels and back is flat, hips should be close to 90 degrees.
The goal here is to lengthen the leg and low back muscles. Hold the stretch for five deep breaths.
6. Seated Figure 4 Stretch
This stretch is a holy grail hip opener. When the hip flexors and glutes are tight they can cause tension or pain in the lower back by pulling on the muscles.
The figure 4 stretch can release much of that tension.
Begin seated in office chair, keep left knee bent at 90 degrees and cross right ankle to come atop left knee making a figure 4. Keep right foot flexed to protect the knee, sit up tall and lengthen the spine. Take five deep breaths here and repeat on left side. To make this a more intense stretch start to fold forward, hinging from hips, while creating the figure 4.
All of these low back stretches can easily be implemented into your daily workday routine. By doing these low back stretches at work we are able to combat the effects of sitting and help relieve some tension and stress in the process.
Need extra encouragement? Try utilizing a posture coach! This small device is worn near your collarbone to help you sit taller and stand straighter. One of its main benefits is to reduce back pain.
Do you have any tips and/or stretches for releasing lower back pain? Any lower back stretches you do at work? Please comment below and let us know!