Your couch isn

Your couch isn’t just good for playoff games and eating nachos. Undo the damage of holiday lazing by opening your hips with the couch stretch. Photo:

Top 5 Exercises to Undo Holiday Sitting Tightness

With the holidays in the rear view we return to our office chairs with bodies worn from hours of traveling by coach and car, bellying up to holiday dinners and putting the foot rest up for playoff games, and one theme is blatantly clear. The holidays are conspired to keep us seated. If your soft tissues are still tacked down from too much lounging in the La-Z-Boy this Christmas, try these alignment exercises on for size.

1) Couch Stretch

This is a weapons-grade mobilization that helps remove tension in your hips and quads. Sure, it's useful after a hard workout, but it will also help your poor sit-too-long hips be slightly less tacked down. If you can't get into the top position, just hang out in the bottom stance. Or, try fast forwarding to exercise #3 below, doing it for a couple of minutes on each leg, and re-testing the couch stretch. You should notice a big improvement.

See 2:20 onward in this video


2) Banded Hip/Hamstring Distraction

It's not just the front of your legs and hips that get locked down when you sit. The hamstrings also clam up, and your femur can actually get pulled to the front of the hip socket...that's not good. Undo the damage with this mobilization, spending a minimum of two minutes per leg.


3) Quad Smash

While the couch stretch can work wonders to loosen up the front of the hips and upper legs, it's often not enough to restore full range of motion. So try also adding in a good ol' fashioned quad smash with a roller, softball, or whatever implement you have to hand.

See 2:44 and onward in this video (Want to really see stars? Get the Supernova for extra soft tissue shear)


Lay off the Christmas ham and take a few minutes to liberate your hamstring. Photo:

Lay off the Christmas ham and take a few minutes to liberate your hamstring. Photo:

4) Hamstring Tack and Floss

You can make the banded hip/hamstring exercise about nine billion times more effective by combining it with some soft tissue manipulation. Simply sit on a bench, plyo box or chair, place a lacrosse ball, tennis ball or whatever your kids left lying around, place it under one hamstring and 1) slowly roll it side to side 2) straighten and then bend your leg. Start where the, ahem, butt meets the hamstring, and slowly work down the back of your leg until you reach the back of the knee.

See it in action in this video


5) Hip Opener

Oh, your poor hips. When you sit too much, you start to lose the external rotation that you need to squat, jump and even stand correctly. Put your desk or kitchen counter to good use and open those hips back up with this simple exercise.


A Few Pointers

As with all other mobilizations:

> Spend at least two minutes per side, and keep going until you feel a noticeable difference

> Go until you feel tension, not tearing. If something feels sketchy, it is sketchy, so back off or stop

> Mobilizations can be more effective if you get the blood flowing first

> Mobilizing before bed can help you sleep better by taking your body into a parasympathetic recovery state (more to come on tips for better sleep)

Balance it out with these upper body mobility exercises.

More Paddle Healthy.