Ever since quarantine began, the world has been doing a lot of sitting. Between a year of commuting between your desk chair to the couch and then bed, you can say the glutes have been through quite the wringer. This is why it’s important to move through some butt stretches to revive the stiffness that comes from sitting for long periods of time.
Think about it this way: When you sit, the muscles in the front of your body (like your hip flexors) shorten so your legs can bend. As that’s happening, the muscles in the back of your body (like your glutes) get longer as you hunch forward. Spending numerous hours in that position can leave your muscles tight and weak from chronic under- and over-stretching, a kind of inactivity which Lauren Wellinger, certified trainer and Brrrn At-Home instructor, says can cause atrophy over time.
Besides causing body aches and stiffness, not stretching your glutes can also be the sneaky culprit behind lower back pain: the imbalance of your muscles causes your weakened body parts to tug on nearby muscles in your legs, pelvis, and back to compensate.
The solution? “Use it or lose it,” Wellinger tells Bustle. Reawakening your glutes with movement and activity can help keep them strong and limber and counteract some of those WFH aches. Giving some love to the surrounding areas, like your hip flexors, hamstrings, and quads, will also keep your keep your lower-body muscles in balance so your legs feel their best. As an added bonus, regular stretching can also boost circulation, which research shows can help reduce blood pressure, improve your mood, and help you think clearly.
If you’re ready to give your gams some much-needed TLC, read on for trainers’ seven favorite stretches for stiff glutes.
1. Downward Dog
If you’re a regular yogi, you probably recognize downward dog as a standard part of your flow. But it can also help relieve achey glutes as a standalone stretch in between Zoom meetings, according to Liteboxer master trainer Anthony Crouchelli. The pose lengthens the muscles on the back line of your body to relieve tension in your hamstrings, calves, and lower back, which Wellinger says can help reduce any unnecessary tugging on your glutes. Crouchelli recommends holding this pose and any other stretches for four sets of 30 to 40 seconds to make the most of the move.
2. Figure 4
Counteract those tight hips with the versatile figure 4 stretch, says Crouchelli. You can do it standing, sitting, or lying down with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Whatever position you choose, start by placing your right ankle just above your left knee. Then press your right knee away from you to deepen the stretch in your hip flexor and glute. Repeat on the other side.
3. Pigeon Pose
If the figure 4 stretch felt good but you’re craving something deeper, look no further: Pigeon is the hip-releasing yoga pose for you, says Crouchelli. Start with your left leg extended behind you and your right shin parallel with the top of your yoga mat. If that’s uncomfortable, you can tuck your right foot closer towards your left hip, adds Wellinger. Square both of your hips forward to feel the stretch in your hip and butt. If you’d like to deepen the stretch, you can fold your upper body down to rest on your forearms or chest.
4. 90/90 Hip Stretch
Pinpoint all of your tight spots with this customizable stretch that targets your hips and glutes, says Wellinger. Start sitting on the floor with one leg in front of you and one leg behind you with your knees bent 90 degrees. Then circle your upper body around until you find a tight spot. Once you do, lean into it to lengthen the tense muscle. Repeat on the other side.
5. Butterfly Reach
Do your stiff glutes come with a side order of back pain? This classic stretch can help. Place the soles of your feet together and let your knees splay out. Then reach your hands and torso forward until you feel a stretch through your low back. Wellinger recommends doing butterfly first thing in the morning while breathing deeply to help relax tense muscles before a marathon day at the desk.
6. Child’s Pose
There’s a reason child’s pose is a go-to move when it comes to easing everyday aches and pains: It lengthens your back and glutes to counteract slouchy posture and encourage blood flow back into stiff muscles. Crouchelli recommends breathing deeply while in child’s pose to help you relax and lean into the stretch for a much-needed midday break.
7. Kneeling Lunge To Half Splits
Lengthen the muscles on the front and back sides of your legs with this dynamic duo stretch. First, kneel on one knee with your front foot planted on the ground. Then tuck your pelvis and press your hips forward until you feel the stretch in your back hip, says Wellinger. For the second half of this double whammy, bring your hips backwards until your front knee straightens and your front heel is the only part of your foot touching the ground. Fold forward over the extended leg to stretch through your hamstrings and glutes.
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