Hydrate and stretch: Some practical tips

Published: Thursday 2nd April 2015

Those of us who spend long periods of time stationary, sitting at our desks, can find that over time the lack of movement may cause pain in our back and hips.

I've received a number of emails in response to a few tips I recently shared for reducing back pain. Most of these emails came from people who have begun to feel the detrimental effects of sitting at their desks for long periods time, unable to move around.

In response to these questions, I have two small recommendations (aside from standing up and incorporating exercise into your daily routine). These are: stay hydrated and stretch.

Stay hydrated 

According to the Mayo Clinic, women should be drinking around nine cups and men should be drinking 13 cups of water a day. Our vertebral discs are made up of fluid, with around 25 per cent of that composition helping us manage the load on our spine. So keep a drink bottle full of water handy at your desk - it'll help you get to the required hydration level.

Take a few moments to stretch 

I also recommend the following stretches, which will help with the parts of your body that become invariably tightened as a result of being hunched over, leaning forward and typing for much of the day:

The hip flexor stretch

Hip flexor stretch

This stretch loosens up muscles like your iliopsoas, which tighten up as a result of being in a seated position for so long. Hold this stretch for 12 seconds and repeat twice on each side. Being tight in this area has been shown to correlate with low back pain, so it's a great one to do!

The lower back stretch

Lower back stretch

If there's a stretch that can help you with back pain, it's this one! Lie down on your back, slide your knees up to you and then lean then out to one side. Let it hang there for around 12 seconds, and do it twice on each side. For even more of a stretch put something like a towel or foam roller underneath your back and bum to exacerbate the stretch.

The pec stretch

Now, we have two pecs; the big fleshy one we see on the chests of our favourite action heroes and the little under-appreciated brother underneath it (which is the one that causes us the most pain - naturally!).

The first stretch, for your pec major, I demonstrate here. Hold your arm up as if you are waving hello to someone who is relatively close by, lean forward from your hips and feel the stretch at the front of your shoulders. Hold for 12 seconds and repeat twice on each side.

Major pec stretch 

The second stretch is for your pec minor. Put your hand high in the air at a door frame and then lean forward, feeling the stretch through the front of your shoulder. Hold for 12 seconds and repeat twice for each side.

Minor pec stretch 

If you'd like more stretches to reduce back pain, send me an email and we'll talk business!

Nathan McLean

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