Ways to bring stretches into your work-life

It was a beautiful fall morning, the day after Thanksgiving. I was still feeling stuffed from the day before, but that was ok because I had the day off from work.

I had the whole day to relax…or so I thought.

My husband, Adam, tells me their grain cart driver is sick. They have a backup driver so everything should be fine. Unfortunately, since it was the holiday weekend their back up was out of town. Adam somewhat jokingly says that I am going to have do it. ME? Ha, yeah right! Like they are really going to trust me to drive the grain cart for corn harvest. I had zero experience driving a tractor.

The next thing I know I was in the tractor, given a 5-minute rundown on what to do and then thrown to the wolves. That is called desperation.

I learned many things that day and one was the toll sitting in a tractor all day can take on your body. And I just did it one day. Farmers spend multiple days in a row in their tractor or truck, leading to increased pain and tightness.

Here are a few stretches to target the common areas impacted.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip Flexor/quad Stretch:

Slowly bend one leg and place the top of your foot on stable surface (steps, smaller tractor tire, etc.) behind you. Stand up tall and gently press your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Hold 30 seconds.

Thoracic Extension Stretch

Thoracic extension/chest stretch:

Stand with your arms bent, hands behind your neck, and your elbows resting on stable surface in front of you.  As you exhale, lean your chest forward, letting your upper back sink down. Hold this position, then relax and repeat.

Hip Opener Stretch

Hip Opener and Thoracic Rotation:

While standing, place one foot up on a small tractor tire or the step of the tractor. Place your hand on your knee and push your knee out with your hand. Inhale as you reach up and away with the opposite hand, rotating your upper body. You should feel a stretch in your hip, shoulder, and back. Hold for a few seconds and then exhale as you return to the starting position. Repeat a few times on each side.

Pec Stretch

Pec Stretch:

While sitting, clasp your hands behind your neck. Pull your elbows apart and backward until you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

Piriformis Stretch

Piriformis stretch:

While sitting, cross one ankle so it is resting on your opposite knee. If you feel a stretch, hold here. To get more of a stretch, keep your back straight and lean forward, gently pressing down on your bent leg with your hands. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.

Stretches for when your working in the field

Upper Trap stretch:

While seated, grasp edge of tractor seat with one hand. Tilt your ear towards the shoulder opposite of your anchored arm. Apply gentle pressure with your hand until you feel a stretch and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.

Sciatic Nerve Glide Stretch

Sciatic Nerve Glide:

Begin sitting with your back slouched forward slightly. Straighten one knee and bend your head backward at the same time, then lower your leg/foot and bend your head forward at the same time.  (If you are tall, this may be challenging to do in the tractor cab). Repeat this motion 10-20 times. Perform on both sides.

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