By Glenn Baja
Feeling like your spending the majority of your time on your rear? It’s not uncommon. In fact, most people spend too much time sitting and end up with poor posture, heart disease, loss of mobility, back pain, weight gain, and the dreaded “dead butt syndrome” (aka gluteal amnesia). If you have problems sitting (or rather, problems from sitting) here are 10 exercises for those who sit too much that will help to boost your energy and overcome the perils of excess chair time.
3 Exercises To Heal Sore Backs
Tight hip flexors from sitting too much result in poor mobility and spinal compression, both of which contribute to lower back pain. Back pain is also exacerbated by a tight chest/hunched back. Here are 3 exercises to make your back feel better. Look them up on Google if you wish to get more of a visual understanding.
1. Arm and Leg Swings
These dynamic stretches loosen tight hips and shoulders. Repeat these stretches anytime if your hips are particularly tight.
- Hold on to something for balance.
- Swing your right leg backwards and forwards as high and far back as you can (you can bend at the knee on the back-swing). Do 20 swings and switch legs.
- Add side-to-side swings. Swing your right leg out to the side as high as you can and then in front of you toward the left as far as you can. Do 20 swings and switch legs.
- Then, work the arms. Swing your right arm back and forth 20 times and then side-to side 20 times, as high as you can. Switch arms.
2. The Grok Squat
Similar to a catcher’s stance in baseball. It’s a great stretch for the hamstrings, Achilles tendons, quads, groin, and lower back.
- Squat down until your butt nearly touches your heels (or gently go as as close as you can).
- Keep your heels firmly on the ground (work towards this if you can’t right now) and your back straight.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds. Repeat anytime your back feels like it’s knotted up!
3. Table Pigeon Pose
The pigeon pose is a classic yoga pose. This time, you use a table, ledge, or any knee or hip-height flat surface for stability.
- Place your leg on the tabletop with your supported knee at 90 degrees and resting as flat as possible on the table. Keep your standing leg straight and one hand on the table for support.
- Lean forward until you feel a good stretch (never to the point of pain). Hold for 60-90 seconds while breathing deeply. NEVER bounce.
- Lean left to the 10 o’clock position. Hold for 60-90 seconds and breathe deeply.
- Lean right to the 2 o’clock position. Hold for 60-90 seconds and breathe deeply.
- Repeat on the other leg.
- One hip may be naturally tighter than the other so spend more time on the tight side.
2 Exercises To Cure Dead Butt Syndrome
When your glutes (butt muscles) “go to sleep” they can’t fire properly, and other muscles are forced to compensate, which can lead to poor body alignment, aches, and injury.
This exercise engages the gluteus maximus (the largest butt muscle), the core, and hamstrings.
- Lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides, palms down. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor as close to your butt as possible.
- Push through your feet to lift your glutes, hips, and back off the ground.
- Slowly lower back down.
- Repeat for 10 reps. Do 2-3 sets.
- For those looking for a more advanced/challenging exercise, try single-leg bridges.
2. Goblet Squats
Goblet squats increase your hips’ range of motion.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
- Hold a kettlebell, dumbbell, water jug, or anything with weight with both hands at your chest.
- Bend at your knees and hips to lower your butt toward the ground, as if you’re getting ready to sit in a chair (push your butt back).
- Go as low as you can, making sure your hips don’t go past your knees.
Push through heels to stand back up.
- Repeat for 15 reps.
3 Exercises To Improve Posture
Sitting for long periods causes you to hunch your shoulders, tighten your chest, scoot your chin forward and generally take on the appearance of a cartoon vulture. These exercises will help improve your posture, encourage deep breathing, and take the strain off your shoulders.
This is a classic effective core exercise that stimulates great posture.
- Get on all fours with your toes on the ground, knees up, and feet shoulder-width apart.
- Place your forearms flat on the floor in front of you with your elbows directly below your shoulders (90 degree bend in your elbows).
- Tuck your tummy to keep your core tight and create straight line from head to toe.
- Squeeze your thighs and butt.
- Keep your neck and spine in a comfortable, neutral position. Do not look forward!
- Keep squeezing your stomach, thigh and butt muscles.
- Hold for 30 seconds. If you can, do at least one plank per day. Increase your time as your strength and stamina increases.
2. Kettlebell Deadlifts
Deadlifts work the glutes, core and hamstrings. Performed correctly (without too much weight and keeping the core tight) deadlifts are effective posture exercises.
- Stand with a kettlebell on the floor between your legs. You can also use dumbbells or even a coffee can filled with sand.
- Keeping your back flat by keeping your abdominal muscles tight.
- Keep your chest open as much as you can and bend at the knees to pick up the kettlebell, keeping your arms straight.
- On the exhale, straighten your legs as you pull the kettlebell up to hip level, pushing the hips forward at the top of the movement.
- Slowly lower the kettlebell back down to just above the floor, reversing the movement you used to pick up the kettlebell.
- Immediately repeat 15 times.
3. Rows. Many posture flaws result from a strength imbalance between the chest (strong/ tight) and the back (loose/weak). Rows help balance your upper body.
- Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Slightly bend your knees and hinge at your hips so that your torso is leaning forward at 45 degrees. Support yourself with your other hand if needed.
- Bring the dumbbell up to chest level, bringing your elbow out to the side.
- Slowly lower the dumbbell back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for 15 reps, then switch arms. Do two sets on each arm.
2 Exercises to Get Your Blood Flowing and Stretch Your Muscles
These exercises help restore blood flow, and give your muscles a good stretch.
1. Dead Bug
Imagine a bug lying on its back, waving its legs. That’s the basis of this mobility exercise.
- Lie on your back with your arms raised toward the ceiling and legs tabletop position (knees bent 90 degrees and stacked over your hips).
- Slowly extend your right leg out straight until it’s a few inches from the ground. At the same time, extend your left arm back behind you to within a few inches of the ground.
- Bring them back to the starting position and repeat with the left leg and the right arm.
- Repeat 20 times.
2. Drawing Circles
This is a great stretch for your upper body, as well as a core workout.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms outstretched above you.
- Reach for the sky, lengthening your spine and arms as much as you can.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles and slowly start to rotate your arms and body clockwise, drawing giant imaginary circles above you… up towards the sky, as if a giant beach ball was above you, in a fluid motion. Keep your hips stationary. Draw 15 circles.
- Repeat counterclockwise.
While sitting too much isn’t healthy, these exercises help undo the damage.
We also recommend getting a standing desk and replacing 30-60 minutes of sitting with standing, every day. Standing desks encourage awareness of your posture, engage your core, and promote blood flow.
You can also use a balance ball to sit on instead of a chair, which engages your core muscles while sitting. It’s a cheap (~$15) investment in better health!
You don’t have to ruin your health just because your job requires you to sit for extended periods. If you find yourself sitting too much once you’ve retired, find an active hobby or sport to get your body moving for more energy and improved quality of life!