5 Stretches for Bleacher Butt
We’ve all been there. Tied at the bottom of the 9th going into extra innings, and in your head you’re thinking, “Ain’t nobody got time for that,” as you head into the top of the 10th. Secretly you’re wishing the game would end, because who wants to sit in those uncomfortable plastic chairs (or sometimes metal bleachers) for one more inning?
And even when the game does end after 9 innings, you may feel stiff or achy, and let’s be honest - your butt is not thanking you for sitting for that long. Well, just in case this resonated with you at all, or in the event that you just want a few good stretches for kicks and giggles, here are some great stretches to do after you’ve been sitting for a long period of time (can someone say road trips?).
1. Standing Forward Fold
Okay so you’ve just been sitting for a good portion of the last few hours. Maybe you’re like me and struggle with good posture. Well, that lumbar spine of yours is not a happy camper! Your hamstrings have also been in flexion for most of that time, so they need to be lengthened.
Start by standing, feet at least hip distance apart, toes pointed forward, heels slightly turned out. Inhale and reach your arms up overhead, and exhale as you forward fold, hinging at your hip. The first time you do this, bend your knees a ton so that you connect your belly to your thighs. You should feel your hamstrings lengthening. You can either place your hands on the floor in front of you, or (what i like to do) grab the opposite elbows, tuck your chin toward your chest, and allow your head and neck to just hang. Stay there for at least 5 deep breaths, or as long as it feels good.
When you feel like you’ve had enough time here stretching the hamstrings, place your hands on your hips, inhale and rise all the way to standing.
2. Lunge Movement
From standing, step your left foot back, and place your hands on the floor, framing your front foot. Come into a runners lunge position, right foot forward, bending in the right leg, and extending your left leg back behind you. This should feel like train tracks, not a tightrope. Left foot toes are tucked under, left knee is lifting.
SIDE NOTE: Your hips should be neutral, meaning your right and left hip are in line with each other - one is not in front of the other. If you feel your hips are not neutral, mentally pull your right hip back, left hip forward slightly to square the hips.
From here, straighten the front leg with an inhale, and bend into the front knee with an exhale. Create movement with your breath, inhaling as you straighten, exhaling as you bend. Repeat this a few times, maybe even folding over your front leg, if that feels comfortable. This is both lengthening the front hamstring, as well as stretching the psoas/hip flexor of your back leg. When you’ve done this a few times, bring your right leg to meet your left leg, and then switch and bring your left leg forward into a runners lunge. Repeat on the left side.
3. Low Lunge
In a society that sits for most jobs (and for most WAGS), we often have very tight hip flexors. This is because our hip flexors (or our posts muscle) is in constant flexion, and like the hamstrings, we need to lengthen it. One of the best ways to do this is with low lunge. if you have bad knees, this may not be the best stretch for you. If it helps you can use a blanket, towel, or other soft surface like a yoga mat underneath your knee.
From a runners lunge on the right side (see above for how to get into a runners lunge), drop the back knee, and place your hands on your hips. Keep your front knee at 90 degrees, and lower the hips towards the floor. Your back toes are firmly rooted into the ground, pinky toes grounding. You will feel this in your left hip flexor/psoas muscle.
A few more options:
Option 1 - If you’re someone who is really flexible in the hip flexor and this stretch is not enough for you, then keep your right hand on your hip, and reach your left hand back to grab the inside of your left foot. Kick your left foot back into your left hand to feel a greater stretch.
Option 2 - Keeping your right hand on your hip, reach your left hand back to grab the inside of your left foot. Rotate your hand over your toes, so that your elbow is near 90 degrees, and bring your foot in towards your butt.
Whichever option you go for, make sure that you repeat it the same on the other side, as to maintain balance on both side of your body.
This stretch feels especially good after a long day of sitting. It has the potential to open up the chest, stretch the spine, and energize.
Lie down on your back, and bend your knees, feet flat on the floor. Bring your feet in towards your butt. Place your palms down flat on the floor next to you. Now, imagine that you need to lift your chest off the floor without lifting your hips. Bring your shoulder blades down towards each other, and lift your chest slightly so that your collarbone spreads. This prepares you for bridge so that you bend in the thoracic and not the lumbar spine.
Now press your palms into the floor and lift your hips. Engage your inner thighs and imagine you are holding a block between your thighs. You should feel like you’re bending in your upper spine, and there should be no pain in your lower back. Exhale release back to the floor. Repeat.
5. Lying Twist
My favorite stretch for that lower back discomfort! Lie down on your back, arms at your sides. Now hug your right knee into your chest, and with your left hand on the outside of your right knee, bring it over your left leg towards the floor. Keep your right shoulder grounded, cactus the right arm, or leave it straight. Breathe into the twist. Inhale, lengthen. Exhale, deepen the twist. Keep your straight leg active, and your foot flexed. Stay here for 5 deep breaths. Inhale the right leg back into your chest, and exhale release the leg to the ground. Repeat on the other side.
These are just a few stretches (of many!) that will help to ease those aching muscles and bones after sitting for so long. I am always amazed at how tight my muscles can get by just sitting still for a few hours! Stretching for a little bit, each day, can keep your muscles lengthened and happy. For more specific questions regarding stretching and flexibility, feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me personally!
Grace & Peace