While Bob Marley may not have had a degree in kinesiology (he leaned more towards “herbology”) he was on to something with his advice above. He may not have even been encouraging us to stand up for our right to psoas suppleness or metabolic magnificence. The man, however, was wise. Fact is, we sit more on average than ever before and it is slowly turning us into C-shaped, Gollum-like desk and couch slaves. Not only are we paying for this postural self-torture with restrictions in hip extension (creating all sorts of hip and low back pain), but we are slowing our metabolisms, getting fatter and are more susceptible to illness. One author has likened our generation’s sitting lifestyle to being like that of the previous smoking generation’s from a declining health perspective (read article here)
Besides the helpful tips outlined in the article above, spend some time each day stretching your hip-flexors. These muscles are found on either side of your lumbar spine and they drop down through the pelvis and insert on to the inside of the the femur/upper leg area. They are hugely powerful muscles and have a profound effect on the kinematics and health of the spine and pelvis. If you sit frequently and for long durations, this stretch will work wonders for reducing low back pain and helping spinal and hip health by creating length in the iliopsoas group. The telltale sign of stiffness and difficulty in getting up from a chair to standing will let you know very clearly that you need to give your hip flexors some love.
Video link: “Couch Stretch”
Get into a lunge position on the floor in front of your couch with your back foot resting on the couch seat and your back knee on the floor with a pillow under it for cushioning. Try to get your back leg bent as much as possible with a near-verticle shin, as if you were trying to touch your butt to your heel. The front leg’s knee should be at about 90 degrees. With the torso upright or leaning slightly forward, drop the pelvis down toward the floor while maintaining both front and back leg positions. Add some (posterior) pelvic tilt to flatten the low-back, squeeze your butt, and increase the intensity of the stretch. Breathe deeply while slowly moving progressively deeper into and gently back out of the stretch as your tissues allow. It will feel like your quad and groin in the back leg are being slowly winched apart. This is good. Do this for about 3-5 minutes a side. None of this fluffy 20-30 seconds stretching stuff. Your hip flexors have been insolent and you need to show them that they lack discipline and respect. Get up, stand up and luxuriate in the warm glow coursing through your fascially free and super-supple iliopsoas muscles. Feel the difference in the way the low back feels and even how your pelvis moves as you walk. Pretty irie, right? Commit to this routine even for just a few days and you should feel a very real change in your low back and hips.
“Ask your doctor if getting off your butt is right for you, today!”
-Christopher Curran, RMT