Sitting for hours at your work desk or in a classroom can cause weakness and stiffness in your buttocks that can make them feel saggy. Take a quick break and stretch your legs and hips, especially your hamstrings and piriformis. The hamstrings are a group of muscles in the back of your thighs, and the piriformis is a small muscle deep in your buttocks that assist in rotating your hip and turning the leg and foot outward. You can do standing stretching for both at your desk or at a counter.
Stretching from a standing position is convenient, allowing you to perform these exercises at your desk without having to lie on the floor. Regularly performing standing stretches can reduce your risk of having a piriformis syndrome, which is a condition in your piriformis and surrounding tissues that causes spasms and low back and hip pain, according to Spine-Health. This often happens because of an irritation of the sciatic nerve that runs beneath and along the piriformis.
Tabletop Piriformis Stretch
This exercise stretches your piriformis as well as you entire buttocks and your lower back. Stand facing a desk that is about as high as your hip. Put your right outer thigh and lower leg on top of the desk with your knee pointing in front of you. You may already feel a stretch in your hip. To increase the stretch, exhale slowly as you lean your torso forward at your hip, keeping your left knee slightly bent and without rounding your spine. Hold the stretch for three to four deep breaths. At each exhalation, lower your torso a bit toward your right leg. Do two sets of stretches on each hip.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
This exercise stretches your hamstrings as well as your calves, hip and lower back. Stand with your right foot slightly in front of you and flex your right foot toward your face. Put your hands on the sides of your hip and hinge forward at your hip without rounding your spine. As you do so, you should feel a stretch in your hamstrings and calves. Hold the stretch for five to six deep breaths. At each exhalation, hinge your torso forward a little more to increase the stretch. Do two sets of stretches on each leg.
Sometimes stretching alone does not always alleviate the tightness or stiffness in your piriformis and hamstrings. Stiff hip joints and an unstable lower spine can cause those muscles to feel tight even after you stretch. To maintain the joint and muscle mobility, do some strength and stability exercises after you stretch, physical therapist Gray Cook suggests. Sample exercises include body-weight squats, floor bridges and reverse lunges. These will help you develop stability in your abdominals, hip and spine and allow you to maintain your mobility level. However, if you have pain while you're stretching, consult your health care provider.
- Athletic Body in Balance; Gray Cook
- GrayCook.com: Expanding on the Joint-by-Joint Approach
- Spine-Health: Stretches and Exercise for Sciatic Pain From Piriformis Syndrome
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.