A Great Spondylolisthesis Stretch For Those With Desk Jobs

In my last post I provided you with a Spondylolisthesis Tip and video to help you reduce the consecutive hours spent in the same seated position.

This post was especially handy for those with desk jobs who have no choice but to sit behind a computer or desk and spend multiple hours in the same position.

In this previous post I mentioned how getting up and simply removing yourself from the same position can possibly help you move and feel better.  I also mentioned how I like to get up every 20 minutes or so and move around when I am commited to the computer.

I try not to get up for more than 2-3 minutes as I have a limited amount of time to spend behind the computer the way it is.  With that being said I found a stretch that takes little time and really focuses on some of *my target areas.

*note – to learn what your target areas are seek a professional who can apply an individual movement screen and help you locate exactly what areas are in need of attention.

The best part about this stretch is it can be performed anywhere and anytime.  And it is especially convenient for those with desks (more on this in a minute).

Before we go over the stretch let’s have a brief review on sitting and make sure we are all on the same page.

What’s Wrong With Sitting All Of The Time?

For starter’s there is nothing wrong with sitting.

Sitting is perfectly fine.

However, problems may arise when people spend hour after hour in the exact same position.

spondylolisthesis enemy

Day after day, week after week and year after year they are hunched over and typing. Almost the exact opposite of the way the human body is designed (upright in nature).

In combination with all of the sitting, people tend to become sedentary.

They do not run,climb or play like they used to.

People sit to watch T.V., sit when they drive to and from work and sit while at work all day.

This recipe of the exact same seated position hour after hour and day after day in combination with little physical activity can lead to physical problems.

From a physical standpoint a few things are taking place when you spend excessive time sitting and more specifically sitting at a desk and typing (see photo above).

  • Your hip muscles are shortened which creates a sense of weakness in your powerful glute muscles and tightness in the front.
  • You are rounded in the upper back which pulls your shoulders forward creating tightness in your chest.
  • Your abdominal muscles can become lazy as you round forward.
  • And last but not least, when seated you are in a position that puts the discs in your spine at a disadvantage and can actually put MORE stress on them compared to moving around.

And most of the time when you’re problematic areas become inactive, weak, and tight you will feel an increase in discomfort. This discomfort is often the pain people blame on the spondy.

a young woman holding her painful back


The spondylolisthesis (or slippage of your fracture) might be the sight of the pain, but the source could be a by-product of the sitting and the issues that accompany all of the time in the same poor physical position. 

Again, this is not known for sure and by no means a fact set in stone. To my knowledge there has been no exact studies that look at the correlation of sitting and spondy pain, but the evidence seems to make sense.  I certainly notice a difference when I stay on top of these areas and I hope you will as well.

But please keep in mind this is not the end all be all to your pain and discomfort. Combining small tasks like these with proper physical therapy and other rehab methods will ultimately lead you to moving and feeling better.  This is just a small piece of the large puzzle.

What You Can Do To Help

The easy answer would be to stop sitting so much, but we all know and understand this is just not possible.

Our suggestion is two-fold:

1. Reduce the amount of time spent in the exact same position.

2. Add stretching and strengthening to combat the negative effects of sitting.

The first step would be to reduce the amount of time you spend in the same position.

For those that work behind a desk this could be as simple as getting up every 15-20 minutes to move,  or 3-4 times every hour. Get a drink of water, use the restroom, or throw something away at the end of the office.

Again, I discussed how I do this in my last spondylolisthesis blog post.

Anything you can do to change positions and walk around will help.

The second step would be to add a proper spondylolisthesis program of stretching and strengthening. A good start is to add this simple stretch throughout your day to help attack the areas affected by sitting.

One of my favorite stretches that helps to attack my weaknesses along with combating the positions of excessive sitting is called The 2 Minute Stretch.

This stretch is designed specifically for those who don’t have a ton of time and spend most of their time sitting.

The reason we love this stretch is due to the fact that it helps to lengthen your hip  muscles, strengthen your core, stretch your upper back and add stability to multiple areas as well.  ALL IN TWO MINUTES!

The Two Minute Stretch: How To Do It

As always make sure you are cleared by you physician before attempting any new exercises or stretches. And make sure you read up on our health disclaimer as well.

Another word of caution is that this stretch can EASILY be performed incorrectly. So please pay close attention to the instructions, photos and details.

Begin by placing one leg on an elevated surface 8”-16” high. The tighter you are, the lower the surface needs to be.

Use one hand for support when trying for the first time. Hold onto a wall, etc for added safety.

If you have a solid chair at your desk that would work (just make sure that if it has wheels it does not move around).

A while back I even used a toilet seat at a conference after a few hours listening to a lecture! I felt so tight and stiff after being seated for so long I had to do something so I found the only thing that would work at the time.

Get creative, but most importantly…..BE SAFE.

spondylolisthesis stretch

Two minute stretch – start position

Once you are safely set up in the start position slowly lunge your weight forward while maintaining a straight back. An easy way to do this is to pretend you have a steel rod on your spine.  Arching your back or rounding forward would not be possible with this steel rod in place.


spondylolisthesis stretch

Two minute stretch – finish position

People who have spondy’s commonly create movement by using their low back. Make sure to move your body together.

Use your free hand to place on your low back or hips to feel the proper movement. As you lunge forward make sure to think about maintaining a strong core and facing straight. This will help to activate some of your abdominal muscles that have been become lazy due to prolonged sitting.

Do not lunge forward by bending your low back, we cannot stress this enough!

spondylolisthesis stretch

Two minute stretch – finish position – bad positioning (notice the puffed chest, stomach and sway in the back)

If performed properly you should feel a stretch in the hips/quad region of your down leg. You also may feel a slight stretch in the back of your “up” leg as well.

Once you feel this stretch hold for 30 sec.

Then repeat on the other leg. (Total time 1 min)

The second part of the stretch is the exact same except you are going to add an arm reach.

You will reach with the arm that is on the same side as the leg that is on the ground. Once you have the proper stretch in your hip, take the arm of the down leg and reach up toward the ceiling.

spondylolisthesis stretch

Two minute stretch – finish position w/ arm reach

You should feel a greater stretch in the hip with the addition of stretching in the upper/mid back region. Once you feel the stretch hold for 30 sec.

Pay close attention to your low back as you begin the reach. Most of the time when you add this kind of movement the back wants to bend backwards. Focus on a tight stomach and keep the top of your hips, low back and mid back in a nice straight line.

In the photo below notice the poor position of the back and added sway when compared to the photo above. The belly is expanded and the body is extending through the low back.

spondylolisthesis stretch

Two minute stretch – incorrect finish position w/ reach (sway in low back with the upper body extending backwards)

Then repeat on the other leg (Total time 1 min).

I like to aim to complete this stretch once for every hour I am sitting in a static position.

Once completed you accomplished 2 minutes of a stretch designed to combat ALL of the tightness associated with excessive sitting.

Again, make sure you do not feel discomfort or pain in the low back. If you do, you are not doing the stretch correctly or you may have some inflammation present. Your best bet is to discuss with your physician or rehab specialist so they can observe you in person. 

Start today and give these two simple changes a try. Afterwards drop a comment below and let me know how it goes.

These changes will start you on the right path to feeling better and help you to fight the negative effects of all that sitting!

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