7 Exercises that Reverse the Effects of Sitting

So much of our everyday lives revolve around sitting doesn’t it? We sit at our desk at work, spend countless hours in our car, sit to read, watch TV, scroll through social media, etc.

Sitting is seemingly unavoidable, but too much can wreak havoc on both our bodies and our mind- causing health consequences such as:

  • Increased risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Cancer
  • Diminished mood
  • Slower Metabolism
  • Decreased energy
  • Obesity
Clearly, these are all important reasons to find windows during the day to get up and move our bodies.
But, as I’m sure you’re aware, spending too much time in a sitting position can also cause musculoskeletal issues. If you’re like me, some of these will sound familiar:
  • Stiff hips and knees
  • Poor posture
  • Weakened core
  • Neck pain
  • Other spinal issues – especially in our lower back

Almost everyone will struggle with one or more of these. However, it’s important for us to know how to restore balance to our bodies so we don’t suffer long-term consequences.

So if, during the day, you find yourself sitting too much, try incorporating these 7 exercises into your life. They will help you undo and prevent some of the most common musculoskeletal effects of sitting. 

1. Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

Coaching Tips:

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Step your back with your right foot about a foot and a half.
  • Keep your left knee slightly bent.
  • In this position, pretend you’re wearing a belt and tilt your belt buckle up as you squeeze your right glute.
  • Staying in the position, lift both arms up over your head while taking deep breaths.
  • You should feel a stretch at the top of your right thigh (aka your hip flexor).
  • For a bigger stretch, slowly turn to your left while keeping your “belt buckle up” and your arms overhead.
  • Remember to take slow continuous breaths.
    Hold for 20-30-seconds and then switch sides and repeat.

2. Hip Thrusters

Coaching Tips:

  • Start sitting on the floor, knees bent, feet in front – about hip-width apart. Your shoulder blades should be right above the ledge of the bench or couch. 
  • Drive through your heels to lift your hips off the ground until your hips are in line with your shoulders and knees. Squeeze your glutes at the top.
  • Slowly lower your hips back down as far as you can while still keeping your “belt-buckle up” – core tight so you don’t arch your back.
  • The entire time, your core should be engaged and your chin should be tucked (looking forward). 
  • Repeat as many times as desired.

3. Kneeling Thoracic Rotations Against Wall

Coaching Tips:

  • Kneel next to a wall with the knee that is NOT next to the wall.
  • If your right arm is closest to the wall, your right leg is forward.
  • Place your palm against the wall and pull your right shoulder blade back as your right arm makes a half circle against the wall as you rotate your sternum towards the wall.
  • Remember to keep your belt buckle up during the motion.
  • Slowly rotate back to the starting position and repeat 5-10 reps.
  • Switch sides if desired.

4. Downward Dog

Coaching Tips:

  • Start on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart, with your shoulders above your wrists and your knees under your hips or slightly behind.
  • Slowly lift your knees and tuck your toes against the ground, as you push back with your hands using that leverage to extend your legs and lift both knees into the air.
  • Your body should now resemble an upside-down “V” shape.
  • Focus on lengthening your spine, simultaneously pressing through the palms of your hands and balls of your feet.
  • Hold this position for up to 30 seconds, making sure to continually take deep breaths.
  • Slowly bring your knees back to the floor to rest.

5. Child's Pose into Cobra

Coaching Tips:

  • Lie face down, with your hands aligned underneath your shoulders and your elbows bent and tucked close to your sides and the tips of your fingers aligned with the tops of your shoulders.
  • Lift your chest up and off the ground into the cobra position while keeping your pubic bone into the floor.
  • Focus on drawing your shoulder blades and elbows back. As your chest begins to face the sky, start to look up.
  • Next, transition into Child’s Pose by slowly lowering your chest back to the floor.
  • Then push your hips back over your heels, stretch out by straightening your arms.
  • Slowly move your face to the floor Repeat as desired.

6. Deadbugs

Coaching Tips:

  • Lie on your back with your hips and knees bent in a 90 degree angle.
  • Keep the small of your back pressed into the floor by engaging your core.
  • While keeping your core engaged, slowly lower one leg towards the floor, maintaining the 90 degree angle of your knee, and then slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg and then keep alternating.

7. Dumbbell Deadlifts

Coaching Tips:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, while holding dumbbells at your side.
  • Keeping a long-spine and your shoulder blades back, hinge back with your hips – like you were sticking your butt back as you lower towards the floor.
  • Once you reached a comfortable end range of motion with your hips/hamstrings, engage your core as you straighten back up tall – squeezing your glutes at the top.
  • Repeat as desired.
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