It’s kind of amazing (and not in a good way) the toll sitting takes on your body. Just sitting. If you do it all day every day (insert hand-raising emoji), you may not even realize it, but your body starts to feel it.
Ever notice how achy your hips, back, and beyond feel after the one day you’re not chained to your desk? Yeah, not fun. That’s because your body gets used to its sit-in-one-spot state (sadly) and then freaks out when you make it work how it’s supposed to. But you can fix that. Even if you can’t make it to yoga every night (or any night), you can relieve tension, ease stress, and decompress—all with a quick stretch. Scroll through for three stretches that everyone with a desk job needs!
If you spend a good portion of your day hunched over a keyboard, you need to add a chest-opening stretch to your daily routine. It relieves pain in your shoulder blades and tightness in your back and counteracts that bad forward-leaning posture.
1. Kneel on the ground, sitting up tall, your bum resting on your heels. For a deeper stretch down the front of your body, rise up to your knees.
2. Interlace your fingers behind your back, palms facing your body.
3. Keeping your shoulders pressed down, lift your arms up until you feel a stretch.
4. Lean your upper body back to deepen the stretch.
5. Keeping your head in line with your spine to avoid putting pressure on your neck, hold this stretch for up to 20 seconds (breathing deeply throughout).
Note: You can easily do this one at your desk throughout the day. Just sit with your feet flat on the floor, interlock your fingers behind you, and lean back until you feel a stretch.
Tight hip flexors are a common issue for people who sit all day. This move stretches out stiff hip flexors and hip joints while lengthening the sides of your body and eases the pressure that can build up to cause lower-back pain.
1. Kneel on the floor and step one leg out in front of you, placing it flat on the ground, ankle directly under your knee.
2. Keep your hips square as you gently press your hips forward to feel a stretch. You can place your hands on your thigh or your hips. Or, for a deeper stretch along the side of your body, raise the opposite arm up above your head and lean over to the side of your front leg.
3. Breathe into the stretch for up to 15 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
Note: If you want more resistance with any of these stretches, incorporate a rope, rubber band, or strap—like OPTP’s Stretch Out Strap ($12)—into the move.
The figure four isn’t just for runners. Sitting for long periods of time generates tightness, even soreness, in your bum. This stretch is a great hip opener and IT band stretch that also targets your glutes and hamstrings. It’s also a must for anyone suffering from sciatica.
1. Lie flat on your back, shoulders relaxed, both legs extended up in the air.
2. Cross one leg in front of the other, placing your ankle in front of your knee.
3. Bend the extended leg into a 90-degree angle.
4. Clasp your hands behind your back leg that’s bent at 90 degrees, threading one arm through the opening between your legs.
5. Flex your feet and gently press your knee away from your body. You can use your elbow to push it even further.
6. Hold this stretch for up to 20 seconds (breathing deeply throughout). Repeat on the other side.
Note: If this is too intense for you, you can lower your leg to the ground and leave your arms flat on the floor.
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Next: Check out these relaxing stretches to unwind with tonight.
Lee DY, Nam CW, Sung YB, Kim K, Lee HY. Changes in Rounded Shoulder Posture and Forward Head Posture According to Exercise Methods. J Phys Ther Sci. 2017;29(10):1824-1827. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.1824
Boukabache A, Preece SJ, Brookes N. Prolonged Sitting and Physical Inactivity Are Associated With Limited Hip Extension: A Cross-sectional Study. Musculoskelet Sci Pract. 2021;51:102282. doi:10.1016/j.msksp.2020.102282
Baker R, Coenen P, Howie E, Williamson A, Straker L. The Short Term Musculoskeletal and Cognitive Effects of Prolonged Sitting During Office Computer Work. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(8):1678. doi:10.3390/ijerph15081678