Sitting for hours at your desk can make your lower back cry out for release. The constant compression on your lower back muscles and spinal discs increases stress over time, causing those muscles to get weak which, in turn, can cause your body to slouch. To avoid looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, stand up, move and stretch regularly at your desk.
Table Top Stretch
This is a simple stretch for your entire back, including the lower back, shoulders and hamstrings. Stand with your legs about hip-distance apart and put your hands near the edge of the desk in a karate chop position with your arms extended. Exhale slowly as you carefully bend forward at the waist until your back is parallel to the floor, shifting your weight toward your heels. Keep your knees extended at all times. Hold the stretch for five to six deep breaths.
Glute Stretch With Forward Bend
Because the lower back is connected to the buttocks by connective tissues and nerves, stretching the glutes and your lower back together helps make your hips feel less droopy and tight. Stand near your desk on your left leg and put your outer right knee and outer shin on the desk. Hold your knee and ankle with each hand; you should feel a stretch in your right buttock. Exhale slowly as you bend forward at your waist to rest your ribs on your leg. Hold the stretch in your hip and lower back for five to six deep breaths. Repeat the stretch on the other hip.
Bends and Twists
Instead of holding a stretch, you can do dynamic stretching for your lower back by moving your torso in a repetitive, rhythmic manner in different directions, suggests flexibility expert and coauthor of "Stretch to Win," Ann Frederick. You can stretch by laterally bending your torso to the left and right, rotating your torso to the left and right or bending your body to the front and back. Don't just swing your body. Keep your balance and rhythm and be mindful of your movements so that you don't pull a muscle or joint. Play your favorite music that has a steady rhythm, like hip-hop or Latin pop, to maintain a rhythm and keep the exercise fun. Do each dynamic stretch about 10 to 20 reps.
If you experience pain, especially in your lower back and hips, check with your health-care provider before starting any workout routine. When you workout at the gym or at home, do exercises in a standing position to strengthen your spine and core instead of sitting on an exercise machine. Good standing exercises include squats, standing cable chest presses, standing cable rows and standing dumbbell shoulder presses.
- Athletic Body in Balance; Gray Cook
- Stretch to Win; Ann and Chris Frederick
- ExRx: Standing Glute Stretch
- ExRx: Wall Lat Stretch
- IDEA Fitness Journal: Corrective Exercise for Prolonged Static-Posture Damage
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.