Most people work around eight hours a day while sitting at a desk. This can put a lot of long-term stress throughout multiple regions of the body and can also create tight muscles through the hip musculature.
Three of these muscle groups that get very restricted and tight after sitting for long durations are the hamstrings, hip flexors and gluteal muscles. If these muscles become tight, they can contribute to pain or discomfort through the hips, inner thigh and even in the low back.
Stretching these muscle groups can be simple, effective and efficient during the work day. They can also give your body much needed movement after you have been sitting at your desk for a long period of time.
Here are three stretches to target the gluteal, hamstring and hip flexor muscle groups at your work:
- Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
For this stretch, start by standing at your desk and put one leg in front of the other. Slightly bend the knee of the leg in front while moving your hips forward over the front leg. While this motion is happening, take both arms and reach over your head while looking at the ceiling. This should cause a stretch to be felt through the upper thigh of the leg that is behind you. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds for both legs.
- Seated Hamstring Stretch
To begin this stretch, scoot yourself to the front of your chair. Straighten one of your legs while the other leg stays bent to help stabilize you. Bend your back and reach down to touch the toes of the foot that is extended. This should cause you to feel a stretch through the back of your upper leg that is extended. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds for both legs.
- Seated Figure Four Stretch
Start this stretch by sitting upright in your chair at the desk. Cross one of your legs to where the ankle of that leg is resting on top of the knee of the leg that is still in contact with the ground. Take both hands and rest them on the knee of the leg that is crossed. Then gently bend forward. You should feel a stretch through the back of the hip of the leg that is crossed. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
The stretches described above should not cause pain, but should help stretch tight muscles through the hip region. These stretches can help keep your hips from becoming tight and can also help with preventing hip and low back pain that can be caused from sitting for a long duration. If you already have hip or low back pain and these stretches are not enough to help with decreasing it while you sit at your desk at work, there may be more of an underlying issue at hand and you may benefit from seeing a physical therapist to help with addressing the issue.
Do you have lower back or hip pain from long days of sitting at work? Find a Foothills Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy clinic near you to get your move back and start feeling your best at work!
The occurrence of “cracks” or “pops” in our joints can be common. Sometimes the popping of the joint is intentional and other times it is random and unexpected. Often, this “pop” leads to a decrease in pressure or discomfort in that particular joint.
There are many definitions of manipulation, but the overall consensus is that it is a manual physical therapy technique in which a passive movement is applied to a joint with small amplitude and in a quick fashion. This is also known as high-velocity, low-amplitude thrust manipulation. The origin of the resulting cavitation, or “pop”, is not entirely known. The most widely accepted theory revolves around the production of gas bubbles as the joint space is increased followed by the collapse of the gas bubbles, which produces the “popping” sound.
Having a joint manipulated or “popped” can be intimidating. However, when performed correctly by a skilled physical therapist, it is extremely safe. In regards to the spine, according to one study, the risk of worsening a lumbar-disc herniation is 1 in 3.7 million.
Your therapist will screen you for any red flags or contra-indications, which may exclude you from being a candidate for manipulation. Once it is deemed that you are appropriate for manipulation, the therapist will place you in the proper position depending on which joint is being manipulated. They will then apply a small, but rapid force to the joint, causing a cavitation in which you will likely feel one or multiple “pops.” These manipulations can be performed at various levels of the spine —the lumbar (low back), thoracic (mid back) or cervical (neck) —, as well as joints away from the spine. Your physical therapist will decide the proper area to manipulate based on your individual symptoms.
Many are familiar with manipulation of the spine, but, “peripheral”, or joints away from the spine, can be manipulated as well. Both of these areas can be useful in treating a number of injuries and are often used in conjunction with each other. For example, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), is a common injury which presents with pain in the outside area of the elbow. Research has shown that manipulation of the elbow, as well as the cervical spine, or neck, can improve outcomes with this condition.
In addition to spinal and peripheral manipulation, you will receive other manual therapy techniques and exercise in order to re-enforce the effects of the manual techniques performed and help you on your way to recovery.
The intentional manipulation of the spine and peripheral joints can be used as a physical therapy treatment to facilitate movement and relieve pain for a variety of conditions. You are a potential candidate for spinal and peripheral manipulation if you have been diagnosed with or are experiencing low-back pain, neck pain, mid-back pain, headaches, jaw pain, disc bulge, lateral epicondylitis, shoulder impingement, hip pain, as well as other conditions. Schedule an appointment and one of our physical therapists will walk you through the process.
Many of us have experienced a “pop” at one time or another. Whether it was intentional from cracking the knuckles on our hands, or unintentional from a random movement, we have felt the ensuing relief of pressure or discomfort.
There are many definitions for spinal manipulation, but the consensus is that it is a manual therapy technique in which a passive movement is applied to a joint, with small amplitude and in a quick fashion. This is also known as High Velocity Low Amplitude thrust manipulation. The origin of the resulting “pop” is not entirely known, though the most widely accepted theory revolves around the production of gas bubbles as the joint space increases followed by the collapse of the gas bubbles, which produces the familiar “pop” sound.
To many, the idea of spine manipulation can be unnerving, as the spine is such an important structure. However, when performed correctly by a skilled physical therapist, spinal manipulation is extremely safe. According to one study, the risk of worsening a lumbar disc herniation is 1 in 3.7 million.
First, your therapist will screen you for any red flags, or contra-indications, that may exclude you from being a candidate for spinal manipulation. Your therapist will then place you in the proper position to manipulate a specific joint and apply a small, but rapid force to the joint, causing a cavitation in which you will likely feel, and hear, multiple pops. These manipulations can be performed at various levels of the spine including the lumbar (low back), thoracic (mid back), or cervical (neck). Your physical therapist will decide the proper area to manipulate based on your individual symptoms.
In addition to spinal manipulation, you may experience other manual therapy techniques and will be taught exercises that re-enforce the effects of spinal manipulation and help facilitate your recovery.
Spinal manipulation can be used to facilitate movement and relieve pain for a variety of conditions. If you experience or have been diagnosed with low back pain, neck pain, mid back pain, headaches, jaw pain, disc bulge or other conditions, you are a candidate for spinal manipulation.
Interested in learning more? Request an appointment at your local Foothills Sports Medicine clinic to receive hands on physical therapy that will get you back to doing what you love.
Foothills Sports Medicine has Phoenix physical therapy clinics across the Valley that are dedicated to providing the highest quality of patient-care to people at all different stages of life with a wide variety of conditions. We strive to develop individualized, hands-on treatment plans to help you heal and improve as quickly as possible. To schedule a free assessment of your needs, make an appointment online today.
Scott Sassaman is a native Arizonan who earned his undergraduate degree in Physiology from the University of Arizona. He decided to pursue a degree in physical therapy after his own sports related injuries while growing up, and went on to earn his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Utah. Scott is here today to share his personal experience with how physical therapy can improve your quality of life.
As I reviewed the intake form of my new patient, I was surprised by the extent of her injuries sustained while playing soccer. She came into our clinic on crutches with a straight leg brace. Her MRI had confirmed tears in 3 major structures of her knee, PCL, MCL and meniscus. An orthopedic surgeon had told her that she needed surgery immediately or she would not be able to play again. She received a second opinion from a physician who suggested she try physical therapy before committing to surgery. As we began to discuss her injury, we talked about the daily tasks she was having difficulty performing. Sitting at work, going up and down her stairs at home and most importantly, doing activities with her 4 year old daughter, such as dancing together, had all become more challenging. The injury was definitely affecting her quality of life in ways she did not expect or plan for.
We discussed the importance of improving the range of motion of her knee, while also increasing the strength and neuromuscular control of her hips to provide the stability needed to return to her previous activities. She was curious, like many patients, as to why we were performing hip exercises when the issue was in her knee, and I was able to educate her on the relationship between hip strength and knee control. This type of patient education is critical because it improves their trust in the recovery process.
She left her first visit with a home exercise program to complement what we had gone over at the clinic. She was very meticulous with the program, which helped speed up her recovery. As time passed, the range of motion and strength improved and she was able to walk and climb stairs without her supportive brace. Although her daily activities were improving, she was still unable to dance with her daughter, which was an emotional subject. She shared with me that her daughter had asked when they would be able to dance again and she was worried about how long it would be, and if her mobility would ever be the same again. Her daughter had come with her to a few visits and the staff took to her immediately. She would perform each of the exercises along with her mom, providing encouragement.
After consistently attending therapy she continued to progress. Once she had demonstrated amazing improvement, we were able to transition her to our FAST, Foothills Acceleration and Sport Training, program where she continued strengthening and progressing to sport specific activities. I was able to keep in touch with her while she attended these sessions and she expressed the joy her and her daughter experienced when they were once again able to dance together. She shared with me how much she appreciated the staff welcoming her and her daughter to the clinic. She was also impressed with the level of attention she received while performing her exercises during therapy to ensure that she completed them with correct technique.
At Foothills Sports Medicine, we strive to provide the best patient experience through hands on therapy and by addressing the psychosocial aspects as well as the physical aspects of injuries. Improving the quality of life for others is our main goal.
For more information about Phoenix physical therapy, check out our blog.
Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy is a group of locally-owned Phoenix physical therapy clinics that provides quality, hands-on care to all of our patients, ensuring optimal results. We offer a free assessment of any injuries you might have, which you can schedule online today. For more information about how physical therapy could help you, follow our blog.
Scott Sassaman earned his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Utah and is a great addition to our Phoenix physical therapy clinics. He has experience working as a therapist for the United States Navy and now focuses on sport, orthopedic, and functional rehabilitation. He is here today to explain how a physical therapist can help you with your back pain.
Do you experience pain, stiffness or muscle tension in your low back? Do you have problems after prolonged standing or walking, or even just sitting? Does lifting or other manual job requirements aggravate your symptoms? If so, you are not alone: low back pain is very prevalent, affecting nearly 85 percent of people at some point in their lives. The problems are often exacerbated by other medical conditions, such as obesity or even depression. However, patients usually don’t need to take drastic measures like surgery to relieve their pain; it can often be solved by restoring proper body mechanics with the help of a physical therapist.
How Can Therapists Solve It?
First, physical therapists are trained to accurately diagnose and treat a variety of conditions that may cause back pain. Some of these conditions include lumbar stenosis, facet joint disorders, degenerative disc disease, sciatica, and many others. These conditions, as well as other factors, can lead to restrictions in muscles, “knots”, and poor motion of joints within the spine. To diagnose the cause of your pain, your physical therapist will inquire about your medical history during your initial visit. Questions may include how and when your pain began, if you have received any medical imaging (such as an X-ray or MRI), if you are taking any medications, what your pain level is, and activities or modalities that make your pain better or worse— such as ice or heat. These questions are designed to help us understand which of our treatments may be beneficial to you, and also screen for more serious conditions, which may require referral to a physician.
Through a skilled movement screen and palpation, we can assess tissue extensibility (how much it stretches), the mobility of the spinal segments, muscular strength, and endurance of key muscle groups that help stabilize and move the spine. There are a variety of treatments for low back pain, which include soft tissue mobilization, trigger point dry needling, joint mobilization and manipulation, stretching, and strengthening exercises. By combining these treatments we are able to decrease restrictions and improve deficits in strength, leading to decreased pain and a better ability to perform daily tasks. The Foothills team believes in hands-on therapy, which means your therapist or support staff will be performing manual interventions at every visit. Throughout your course of care, your physical therapist will modify your treatment as you progress. This may include new and more challenging stretches or strengthening exercises.
As you progress, your therapist will also provide you with homework or exercises to perform outside the clinic. Our goal is to help you not only reduce your pain, but also to identify what caused it and prevent it from reoccurring later— even when you have improved and no longer need formal therapy. The tools your physical therapist provides you will help you continue to improve and remain pain free far into the future.
Photo credit: @ayeshamus