Loosen Your Hips to Lose the Belly {oh and prevent injury!}

Sitting is the new smoking!! It must be true because every magazine and newspaper has proclaimed it so.

As with all things, I’m sure there is a middle ground which is why I alternate using my standing desk and enjoying a chair…that being said an unfortunate side effect of our desk job/computer lifestyle is that when you are ready to run your tight muscles can quickly result in injury.

Now we’re sitting for work and sitting because of injury, how does one win?! We combat that sitting by correcting our posture and stretching out the hips.

An added benefit is that it  might just reduce your lower belly by improving your posture! {Of course the other important component of that is clean eating! Checkout the 28 day Clean and Lean Project.}
Loosen your hips to loose the lower belly - 5 stretches to helpExample of how pregnancy causes the lower belly to protrude
Lordosis is the medical term to describe the change in our natural posture from all of this sitting.

In plain English it causes your butt to push back and thus your belly to come forward.

So you might get that Kim Kardashian bootie, but at the expense of your stomach protruding when in fact you really should have a nice flat belly.

Above is an exaggerated version in the posture of many pregnant women, as a natural attempt to try and balance the body. In fact the tightness in your quads, the low back pain and even your IT band issues could all be from your hips being out of alignment due to the consistent tightness.

Resolving this is two parts: Stretching the tight muscles and strengthening the muscles that have been turned off due to the other muscle tightness.

5  STRETCHES TO RELEASE THOSE HIPS
Stretching whether through a consistent yoga practice or simply these few stretches will loosen your hip flexors to help resolve misaligned pelvis or rotational pelvis issues (i.e. when you find one leg is longer than the other).  Sitting causes the hip flexors to remain flexed and active all day long, which results in overuse and then stiffness.

Here are a few daily stretches that will help to keep those muscles lengthened and strong.
5 stretches to undo the effects of sitting all day - which can cause running injuries and a lower belly!These stretches are meant to be held for up to 1 minute per side, this is not something to rush, but rather to slow down and make part of your evening routine. Super easy to do while seeing who will get the rose this week {or in my case ponder why Gibbs can’t get a better hair cut}.

Kneeling hip flexor stretch
Tuck your hips under and with one leg forward lean in to the stretch. You should feel it along the front of the leg on the ground, meet your hip flexors! This stretch alone will go a long way towards releasing the tightness caused my sitting.
Kneeling hip flexor stretch - plus 5 more to undo the effects of sitting all dayThis is also a good time to check your shoulders, are they back or rounded forward from being on the computer. Head up, shoulders back, the lean should cause you to feel a stretch and your knee shouldn’t cross over your toes.

Deep Squat
Unlike doing a squat for a body weight workout here you want to sink down and settle in to the pose. Work your way up to staying here for at least 1 minute and keeping your heels on the ground throughout the pose.

This one is by far the hardest for me, but hey hands in prayer position make it a good time for gratitude.
Deep squat for releasing tight hips - click for 5 other poses to undo the effects of sittingIf you have trouble getting in to or staying in the squat, it’s best to start out by holding on to a bar for stability. Keep your head and chest up! The goal is to allow your lower back to relax and let go.
Assisted deep squat - hold the move for up to 1 mintue to relase tight hips and low backChild’s pose
Much like the squat child’s pose is another release for your lower back and your brain, something about it forces you to relax! There are two options for child’s pose, the first is to place your feet together, knees out wide and then lay your upper body to the floor.
Child's pose to release a tight lower back - click for 5 more exercises to helpIf this causes ANY knee pain, it’s likely due to tight hips and you can switch to a modified version where both your feet and knees are together.
Modified child's pose to release a tight lower backAssisted Quad Stretch
This one is great for alleviating a lot of knee pain experienced by runners, as well as hip and back pain.

Scoot back and place both knees next to the couch or wall, with one leg propped up against it. Then place the other leg in to a 90 degree position and move in to an upright position.  Keep your body tall and straight, don’t lean back or forward. You may need to start with your knee farther from the couch if you are extremely tight and just work back over time.
Assisted couch stretch is better for your hips than the normal standing stretch - find 5 more stretches to undo the effects of sittingI’m not as far back as I could go. If you can stay tall and get your bum and foot connected that’s ideal!

This is more effective than the standing quad stretch due to the added resistance and mobility it creates throughout the entire hip joint.

Knee hug
Who couldn’t use a hug every day?! Simply bring in one leg at a time while keeping the other flat on the floor for another static stretch to release the low back.

Fun tip: If you want to work your insides a bit and help with digestion instead of bringing the knee straight up to your chest, you can bring it out to the side under your armpit.
Stretches to help undo the effects of sitting all day

There are many more stretches you can do to open your hips like pigeon pose, but these 5 are effective and a great start. If you are looking for more checkout these details posts:
Best post run stretches
3 Dimensional Hip Stretches
Hip Stability Exercises
Hip Mobility and Extension Exercises

Do you stretch daily?

What’s your favorite hip opener?

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Hip Stability Exercises to prevent ITBS and Runner’s Knee

Comments

  1. says

    This is a great resource. I sit a lot for work and have noticed how my posture has changed recently and I’m definitely going to try these exercises to see if I can reverse the effects.

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