I RECENTLY HAD THE PLEASURE OF HANGING OUT WITH KELLY STARRETT AT SAN FRANCISCO CROSSFIT.
For those of you who don’t know Kelly, get out from under your rock and check him out. Co-founder of San Francisco CrossFit and The Ready State (previously MobilityWOD), Kelly was the first to own a CrossFit gym with on-site physical therapy, is the author of the New York Times Best Seller, Becoming a Supple Leopard, and is the first grown man I have ever seen effortlessly glide into the splits. I don’t know whether I’m more impressed or envious.
Rooted in preventative medicine, Kelly realized that 98% of orthopedic injuries could have been avoided if the athlete practiced good movement patterns and mobilized regularly. I know I’m not an Olympic athlete by any means, but my mobility needs are still the same. The Olympic power lifter may need to squat 900 pounds, but I need to be able to get up out of my desk chair every day… same movement patterns.
If you’re like me, you may be sitting at your desk right now with less than ideal posture, and half a cup of lukewarm coffee nearby. My hips are closed and smashed, my chest dropped, and my shoulders are rolled forward… except I totally just fixed those posture faux pas because admitting my sitting position whilst writing this brought my slouching to attention, so thank you.
For many of us, our realities are filled with 40 hours of desk sitting, keyboards to hover over, and little to no time to stretch (except on our all-too-short bathroom breaks—and that’s a whole different type of squatting all together). Many of us 9-5ers complain about hip, knee, shoulder, and back pain. However most, if not all, of these aches and pains can be prevented (seeing a theme here?) by stretching and sending some extra love to these vessels that get us through life (yes, I’m talking about our bodies).
Below, find three easy stretches to alleviate the pains brought by a commuting, desk jobs, or a nasty combination of the two:
No, this isn’t the latest auto-tuned hip-hop single from T-Pain, but your Thoracic System may want to ‘Buy U A Drank’ as a thank you after this stretch.
Helps with general posture, rotation, and throwing mechanics (you know, so you can get that annoying coworkers attention by throwing your stapler at them).
Place the double lacrosse ball (or Peanut) on a specific portion of your spine.
Raise your arms overhead (keeping tummy tight and arms straight).
Extend over the Peanut keeping arms locked out overhead. From here, remember to BREATHE! You can also “roll from side-to-side or elevate your hips to create additional pressure” (238).
You can also try this with a foam roller. This is a less targeted approach than the lacrosse ball, and will open up the Thoracic System as a whole.
C’mon, guys! The word “couch” is literally in the title… how hard can it be? If you find yourself winding down the day with a couple episodes from a Netflix Original Series, plop into this stretch, and make your movie watching time as beneficial as possible.
This stretch helps alleviate low back, hip, and knee pain.
Propped on your knees (bracing the floor with your hands/fists) place your feet up against the wall—forming a 90-degree angle at the wall and your heels.
Slide your left knee (or right…remember you’re going to do both sides anyway) back so that it meets the wall, and allow your left foot to find it’s way up the wall so your left ankle is stacked over your left knee.
Move your opposite leg out in front of you into a lunge position (making sure to keep your shin vertical)—it’s okay to hang out here if your “feelin’ the burn.” This is when the chair for further stabilization will come in handy.
Slowly bring your torso upright, squeeze your buns, and stack your shoulders over your hips
Hang out here and embrace the stretch. Breathe.
Try hitting 4 minutes each side.
No, this stretch will not reverse the effects of killing a 6 pack of IPAs after work, but it will help the hips and lower backs for those of us spending most of our day in traffic or behind a desk.
“The psoas is a big bastard of a muscle that crosses from your diaphragm-lumbar region of the vertebral column to your pelvis and leg. It has the supreme responsibility for stabilizing the spine, flexing the hips, as well as powering rotation. So, if it gets tight and tacked down to the surrounding structures, it’s going to cause a lot of problems—like an inflamed lower back…This is another reason why you want to avoid sitting for extended periods of time. With your hips closed and muscles of your primary engine turned off, your psoas has to work really hard to keep your spine stabilized” (293).
Lay over ball with the ball between your hipbone and ribcage
Sink all your weight onto the ball (this can be best accomplished by controlling your breath. Once your ball of choice is in place, exhale, and do your best to relax your weight over the ball).
Spin torso on top of the ball, slowly rotating from left to right.
Brace yourself… 10 whole minutes!
If you’re interested in learning more about mobility guru Kelly Starrett, Becoming a Supple Leopard, or the gadgets and gear used by the team check this out.
Part coach, part counselor, part content creator. Here for you from movement to mindfulness.
CrossFit Level 2 // MFT Trainee // Breakfast Burrito Connoisseur.