Let’s face it. Sitting all day sucks, but it is something that most of us need to do. Mankind was not meant to work in an office and sit all day, however, and because of that, it takes a real toll on our bodies. The good news is that there are a few simple things that we can do to start to reverse some of that damage, and by only doing a few things on this list throughout the week, I can almost guarantee you’ll start to feel a little better.
1. Leg Swings
This is a pretty easy exercise that you can do just about anywhere, and it does a great job of loosening your hips, hamstrings, and glutes. All you need is something to give you some balance, and you are good to go.
To start, just start swinging one leg backward and forwards, trying to go as high as you can one way, and as far back as you can on the other. Do that about 20-25 times, then switch legs and repeat. Once you’ve got the back and forth motions through, you can move on to some side-to-side swings. Just swing your leg out to the side as far as possible, then move it just a little bit in front of you and swing it the opposite way as much as you can. Again, do this about 20-25 times and then switch legs, and you’ll start to feel a bit looser before you know it.
2. Catcher’s Squat
The Catcher Squat, also known as the Grok Squat or the Third World squat, gets its name because it looks similar to the way a catcher squats behind the plate at a baseball game. All you need to do for this workout is just squat down until your butt touches your ankles, keep your heels firmly planted on the ground, and your back straight. After about a minute of holding the position, you’ll start to feel most of the muscles below your waist starting to stretch. It might take a few days for some people to be able to loosen up enough to actually get into a full squat, but don’t let that scare you away. A few squatting sessions a day, and your lower half will be thanking you.
3. The Pigeon
All you need for this exercise, which takes its name from a yoga pose of a similar name, is a table and you are good to go. Simply place your leg on a table top of another firm object with the knee bent at a 90 degree and lean forward. Hold that position for about a minute to a minute and a half, then lean slightly to your left, at roughly the to the 10 o’clock position and repeat for another minute. After that, lean to the right, at about the 2 o’clock position for yet another minute, and then start the process all over again on the other leg. Congratulations! You’ve done the pigeon! Your legs are already feeling better, aren’t they?
In a survey of 36,000 trainers, the lunge came in second for the exercise that will give your glutes the best workout (squats came in first, to no one’s surprise). But they aren’t just good for toning your butt, they also give your thighs a good workout, and can really help to loosen up all that damage we get from sitting around all day.
To do a proper lunge, remember to keep your upper body straight, shoulders back, and chin up. Then simply move one leg forward, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle, with your front knee directly above the ankle and your other knee off the floor. Keep the weight in your heels as you move back up into your starting position, and then repeat with the other leg going forward. Do about 20 lunges on each leg, and watch that leg pain melt away.
5. Hip Raises
You might not wanna do this one at the office because it can be a little awkward looking if someone walks in on you, but hip raises are a great way to loosen up. To do a proper hip raise, all you need to do is lay down on the floor, knees bent and feet flat, then simply lift up your hips while activating your glutes. Do a couple sets of about 10 reps a few times a week, and you’ll really start to feel the difference.
If you want to add some extra difficulty to the hip raise, some people like to hold a weight on their hips while they do their raises. Not for everyone, but adding some extra pounds to the routine can definitely help get you a bit more toned.
Another exercise that we would probably not recommend for the office, the clamshell is a great stretch for loosening up. Just lay on your side, keeping your hips and knees bent at a 45-degree angle, and then while keeping your feet together raise your upper knee as high as you can. Make sure your pelvis doesn’t move, and your lower leg stays on the floor, hold it up there for a second or two, and then let it back down. Do about 20 reps of this, then switch legs and start all over and the other side.
7. Shoulder shrugs
We’ve been focusing a lot on our lower body, but sitting takes a toll on our spines too, so we should add in something that focuses on our upper halves as well. To do a shoulder shrug, all you need to do is stand up straight, shrug your shoulders up and back, and then clasp your hands together. Once you get hold of your hands, squeeze your triceps and bring your shoulders down, then hold the position for about a minute. The first couple of times you do it, don’t be surprised if you hear a few pops as your spine loosens up.
For those that want a more difficult version, some people prefer to do a laying shoulder bridge/shrug. To do that, lay down, plant your feet shoulder width apart, lift your hips up off the ground so that your weight is supported on your feet and shoulders, and then do the same as above, clasping your hands and holding the position for about a minute.