Sit all day? Try these desk stretches to loosen your hips

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We’ve heard all about sitting being the new smoking. On average, people spend 70 percent of their waking hours sitting, according to research. And among the laundry list of health issues caused by prolonged sitting is tight hips.

Research shows that musculoskeletal complaints are among the most prevalent symptoms in the general population — and according to one study, about 15 percent of older adults complain of significant hip pain on most days.

According to Danny Johnson, corrective exercise specialist and owner of a personal training and rehabilitation center in London, every joint in the body needs a good muscle balance surrounding it in order to function optimally. “Tight hip flexors and tight hamstrings can bring the hips into an anterior pelvic tilt and cause back pain, putting pressure on and compressing the lumbar spine discs,” he says. This explains why tight hips and the area around the hips can pull the low spine out of alignment. “It will also tighten up the lumbar [muscles] and can provoke spasms in the back as these muscles will try to constantly stabilize and will fatigue,” Johnson says.

Knowing some of the consequences of tight hips, it’s not hard to see why loosening them up is so important! Especially if you are spending long stretches of time sitting.

Stretches for tight hips

Hip flexor warrior 1 stretch

Stand up from your chair and step your right foot forward and your left foot back. Open the feet wider than the hips, and bend the front knee while keeping the back leg straight. Turn the left toes so they face forward on a 45-degree angle. Place your hands on your hips, on your desk for balance or reach them towards the sky. Pull the abs in and relax the shoulders. Hold for 20–30 seconds, and then switch to perform on the other side.

Forward fold hamstring stretch

A standard forward fold (often performed in yoga) loosens up the back of the legs and the low back. While you’re seated at your desk, you can perform a similar pose by placing your heel up on a printer, boxes or shelves. Pull your naval in towards your spine, and then fold forward hinging at your hips. You can reach over towards the right toes and then over towards the left to stretch each leg on its own respectively, or you can reach forward towards both feet at the same time and stretch both legs together. Hold for 20-30 seconds while breathing slowly.

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