Sitting at a desk all day doesn’t sound strenuous, but it can cause the body to feel stiff and knots to form. Just like it’s important to stretch after a workout, it’s important to stretch if you’re sitting in the same position for multiple hours a day. It will help get the blood flowing, loosen up the muscles and calm the mind after a long day’s work.
One thing to keep in mind is that an effective stretch should feel like a slight pull but it should never be painful. Pain may lead to an injury. Whether it’s lunchtime, midday or post-work, incorporate these stretches to loosen up your body after a long day of working from home.
Side Tilt – Neck
With your head square looking in front of you, slowly lower your head so the right ear is trying to reach the right shoulder. You should feel a slight stretch in the left side of your neck. Hold for 15-20 seconds, taking slow and deep breaths before slowly lifting your head back up straight. Repeat the same motion on the left side for 15-20 seconds. Repeat on both sides 2-3 times or as needed.
Side Rotation – Neck
The neck can get stiff staring at a computer screen all day. The side rotation will stretch the sides of your necks, releasing any tension. Keeping your head square, slowly turn your head to the right side until you feel a slight stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for 15-30 seconds, taking slow, deep breaths. Slowly turn your head to the left and hold for another 15-30 seconds, breathing in and out slowly. Repeat as needed.
Up & Down Tilt – Neck
Now that you’ve stretched the sides of the neck it’s time to stretch the front and back. Slowly tilt the head forward, lowering your chin into your chest. You should feel a slight stretch in the back of the neck. Hold for 15-30 before slowly raising your head back up. Slowly tilt your head back, lifting your chin to the sky, stopping when you feel a slight stretch in the front of the neck. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 more times or as needed.
Shoulder Roll – Shoulders
Sitting or standing up straight, raise your shoulders up towards your ears slowly and lower them by pushing them back and down behind you in a circular motion for a total of 5 backwards circles. Then, roll your shoulders up and in a forward on the way down for another 5 circles. Repeat front and back circles 2-3 times each.
Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch – Shoulders
This shoulder stretch can be done either sitting or standing. Bring your right arm across the left side of your body, using your left hand to hold and place a little resistance on the right arm. You should feel a slight stretch in the back of the shoulder muscles. Hold the position for 15-30 seconds before releasing and repeating on the left arm. Repeat both arms 2-3 more times.
Chest Opener – Pectorals
The chest opener stretch will not only stretch out the pectoral muscles but it will also stretch the front of the shoulder muscles. Sitting up straight with your shoulders back sit near the front of your chair and reach both your arms back to grab the back of your chair. If you want to feel more of a stretch in the front of the shoulder, slowly lean your torso forward. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds.
Cat/Cow Pose – Lower Back
You might recognize this stretch from yoga. The cat pose is a great way to stretch those lower back muscles. Kneel on all fours with your hands and knees on the floor. Begin by tucking your chin into the chest and round the back, pulling it up towards the sky. Hold for two breaths before slowly arching your back and lifting your head, reaching your chin upwards. Repeat as a continuous motion for a total of 10 position changes.
Seated Twist – Lower Back
Sitting tall at your chair or on the floor, twist your upper body to the right with your right arm extending back behind your torso and place the left arm on the side of the left leg. Hold for 15-30 seconds before releasing and repeating the same motion on the left side. Repeat 2-3 times on each side or as needed.
Cobra Stretch – Abdominals
Also referred to as the sphinx stretch, this exercise will stretch out the abdominal muscles. Laying on your stomach on the floor, place your hands below the shoulders and slowly lift your chest off the ground as far as your back will comfortably let you. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds before releasing. Repeat this stretch 2-3 times.
Wrist Flex/Extend – Wrists
If you spend most of the day typing away at the keyboard, this stretch will assist in relieving any tension in the wrists. Extend your right arm in front of you at shoulder height, and extend the hand so the fingers are pointing upward. Use the left hand to pull the palm of the hand, bringing the back of the hand towards the body. Hold for 15-30 seconds before releasing this position.
Next, flex the wrist where the fingers are pointing down towards the ground. Gently pull on the back of the hand bringing the palm towards your body. Hold for another 15-30 seconds and release. Repeat on the other hand.
Overhead Tricep Stretch – Triceps
To stretch your triceps out (the back of your arm where your elbow meets your shoulders), lift your right arm up over your head and bend the elbow to lower your forearm behind your head. Use your left hand to hold the right elbow and to apply a little resistance if needed. Hold the position for 15-30 seconds. Repeat the stretch on the left arm.
Kneeling Lunge – Hip Flexors
Sitting all day can cause stiffness in the hips which is why it is important to stretch out the hip flexor muscles. Kneel on your right knee and place your left foot flat on the floor in front of you as if you were about to propose. Slowly and gently press the hips forward. This should result in a stretch in the right hip flexor (where the torso meets the legs). Hold this position for 15-30 seconds and switch legs.
Knee Bend – Quadriceps
To stretch out the quadriceps (the top of the thighs), stand up with feet shoulder width apart. Bend the right knee up towards the glutes and hold your foot with your right hand. Hold onto a chair or a desk to maintain your balance. Maintain this stretch for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the left leg. Make sure both knees are together and facing forward.
Laying on your back on the ground lift both your legs up and bend the knees to a 90 degree angle. Cross the leg right leg over the left leg across the left thigh. You should feel a slight stretch in the right buttock. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds before you release and switch legs.
Toe Touch – Hamstrings
This is another stretch that you can perform either standing or sitting on the ground however, standing will require more balance. Sitting on the ground extend your legs straight in in front of you. Keeping your back straight, lower your torso to your thighs and reach towards your toes as far as you can comfortably go while still feeling a stretch. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat if needed.