if you sit a desk and you plan to surf for the foreseeable future, I would strongly suggest you do exercises that offset the damage of sitting. And if you’re like me, stretching and flexibility work isn’t your idea of fun. It always goes on the back burner. “I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll start Monday.”
Does that sound familiar?
Well, here’s the reality: The more you neglect stretching, flexibility, and moving your body well, the quicker it’s going to come back to bite you in the ass. And when I say ass, I mean I literally got bit in the ass with a hamstring tear a few years ago thanks to tight and dysfunctional hip muscles. This is only made worse if you have an office or at desk job. You need to offset the damage with stretching, yoga, or any other kind of soft tissue work. But doing random yoga stretches aren’t going to help you out. You need to do the right kind of stretches for your specific needs.
For example, here is 5-minute routine to start every morning with, making you more flexible in a matter of weeks. In addition, check out the below top 5 stretches for surfers who sit a lot. These 5 movements will target the exact areas that get neglected from sitting at desk and working at a computer.
I wish I had this list 10 years ago. It would have saved me so much time and effort. I’m now paying the price with tight hips, stiff ankles, and cranky shoulders.
Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
What: This stretch will target the main hip flexors of the leg that get very short when you sit.
Why: If you hip flexors are short and most likely weak, you will not have good hip flexibility. This can lead to knee and lower back pain. Get your hips moving well and the joints around the hip will be very happy.
How: Get into a half kneeling position with your upper body tall. Find a mat or soft pillow or towel for your bottom knee if the ground is hard. The key here is to squeeze the butt on the leg that is on the ground – you should feel a deepening of the stretch through the front of the hip and top of the quad. Try to avoid arching your lower back. Hold for 30-60 seconds with deep relaxed breathing.
What: This stretch will target the large chest muscle and the front shoulders. These muscles get short and tight from any sitting at desk, in a car or working at the computer.
Why: When the chest muscles get short and tight, they pull the shoulders forward and create bad posture. Bad posture over time can lead to all sorts of pain and discomfort, not too mention an inability to fully use your shoulder.
How: Find a doorway and place the inside of your forearm on the doorway with the elbow at a 90 degree angle. Contract the muscles of the chest for 2 seconds and then release and try to go deeper into the stretch.Try for about 10 contractions on each side.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
What: This stretch will target the back of the legs, the hamstrings.
Why: When the hamstrings get tight and over active, they allow the big muscles of the butt (the glutes) to stay sleepy. You don’t want sleepy glutes. Releasing the tension in the hamstrings will allow the butt muscles to work better. This will take a lot of pressure off the lower back.
How: Simply bent forward and let your hands drop towards the ground. The key here is to keep your back as flat as possible. Think about reaching out in front first and then drop down to the ground. Grab onto your shins or ankles and keep the knees from bending too much. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Slowly come back up. Repeat for a total of 3 rounds.
Wall Shoulder Slides
What: This stretch will work on your middle and upper back flexibility. This part of the spine is called the thoracic spine and is vital in shoulder and upper body movement.
Why: Sitting for long periods of time promotes a slight rounding (flexion) of the thoracic spine. It’s important that you balance that out with some extension of the thoracic spine to make sure it stays loose and mobile. If the thoracic spine gets restricted and tight, it can lead to shoulder issues.
How: Set up with your back against a wall. Place your arms out to the side at shoulder height with your elbows bent at 90 degrees. The back of the shoulder, back of the elbow, and back of wrist should all be touching the wall. Slowly raise the arms overhead while maintaining contact with the lower back and keep the ribs down. The idea is to slowly slide the arms up while maintaining contact to the wall with back of hand and outside of the elbow.
Shoot for about 10 movements up and down while focusing on good breathing and making sure your ribs stay down.
Calf / Ankle Stretch
What: This stretch will target the ankle joint by stretching the calf muscles and combining that with specific movements to get more range of motion in your ankle.
Why: The ankle joint should be able to both point, flex and turn inwards and outwards. The problem is our feet are more protected than ever with modern footware. Chances are if you don’t work on your ankles, they will be restricted in dorsiflexion (bringing the toes up towards your body). The calves obviously play a huge role in how the ankle moves. If your ankle doesn’t move well you can expect other joints to take additional stress. Knee pain, shin splints, and planter fasciitis are all commons issues related to limited range of motion in the ankle joint.
How: Grab a towel or yoga mat and role it up so that it is 4-5 inches tall. Place the front of one foot – just the ball of the foot – on the towel. Keep the same heel down on the ground and lean try to lean forward by dropping the knee forward. You might feel a little pinch in the front of the ankle joint or a severe tightness in the calf. Try for about 20 repetitions on each leg.
Keeping your body pain free, moving well and avoiding injury as you age is all about being proactive. You have to nip aches and pains in the bud so they don’t turn into injuries years down the road. Little nagging soreness left unchecked can lead to chronic problems, especially if you spend a lot of time in a chair.
If you spend 15+ years of your life sitting all day before sitting some more in your car, then sitting some more on the couch, well then yes, your 40’s are going to feel shitty.
On the other hand, if you take care of your body and do exercises to offset the damage of sitting, address your specific weakness and have a solid movement practice performed daily, 40 can feel great. I’m stronger, leaner, and more flexible today at 36 than I was at 22.
So why can’t 50 feel great? Hell, why not 60?
I don’t know about you, but I have a LOT more surfing to do in this body.