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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stiff From Sitting? Try These Standing Leg Stretches

For people fighting obesity or morbid obesity the sedentary nature of our jobs works against us as we spend the majority of our working day seated allowing our basal metabolic rate to slow down. Not only that but our joints become stiff and muscles weaken from lack of use. It is hard to determine which came first: the obesity or the sedentary work environment. Experts in applied physiology report many of us do not stretch the large muscles in our legs often enough to counteract the daily stresses of prolonged sitting or standing. I happen to be one of those people.

Taking time to stretch our major muscle groups during the day is one thing we can consciously do to fight back against the deterioration caused from sitting. Doing the following four stretches once or twice during the day will help us become more flexible, will introduce more oxygen into the blood stream making us more alert, and will relieve the discomfort of stiff muscles and joints that results from prolonged sitting.

These common leg stretches are referenced in Joan Pagano's book "Strength Training for Women". She instructs us to push each stretch until feeling a gentle pull, but not pain, in the muscle. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds without bouncing which allows the muscle to lengthen. Breathe into the stretch, using the exhale to move deeper into the position.

Calf StretchStand with feet together and place left hand on a chair back for support. Take a giant step back with the right leg and press the heel into the floor. Bend your left knee over your ankle. Feel the stretch in the back of the calf.

Hip-Flexor StretchFrom the previous position, come up on the toes of your back foot, bend the back knee toward the floor and press the bottom of the pelvis forward. Keep the left knee directly over the ankle. Feel the stretch in the front of the right hip.

Quad StretchStand on your left leg with the knee soft. Bend the right leg and, holding the foot or ankle, bring the heel toward the buttocks. Feel the stretch along the front of the thigh. To intensify the stretch, press the bottom of the pelvis forward.

Hamstring StretchStand on your left leg, with the knee bent. Extend your right leg to the front, and rest your heel on the floor; with the toe pointing to the ceiling. Bend forward from the hip, keeping your upper body in proper alignment. Feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Turn around to perform the sequence of stretches on the left leg.

If you engage in a lunchtime walking program these stretches are a good warm-up to your mid-day walk. Warm-up exercises prepare you body for more active exercise and help to prevent injury. You can also follow your walk with these stretches as a cool-down to allow your body to return to a pre-exercise state. Both warm-up and cool-down exercises are important to a good exercise program.

Article Source: Stiff From Sitting? Try These Standing Leg Stretches


Judy said...

When bending the knee on the standing leg, be sure that the knee stays behind the ankle. If the knee juts out beyond the ankle, you risk damaging your knee joint, and we don't want to do that!

Kaye Bailey said...

Great advice, thanks Judy.