Stretch These 6 Muscles If You Sit All Day
So many of us than ever before do sedentary jobs, sitting for extended periods behind a desk or a counter of some description or even earning a living driving a vehicle. It’s not always practical to stand up to carry out that job either. In some instances, you really do need to assume a seated position all day long which is why it’s so important to understand how you can sit safely and also some targeted stretches you can when the time and space allows it.
Believe it or not, there is a correct way to sit physically. The trouble with being seated, and especially being slumped over a desk which is what inevitably happens to your body when you are in this prone position, slows down your metabolism and you begin to, well, spread a little! Nobody wants that! It’s difficult enough as it is finding time to burn those calories. If you have to sit in an office chair for a large proportion of your day and your company hasn’t yet invested in the popular trend towards standing desks, then it’s important to understand what you can do to mitigate the damage, boost the calorie burn and stretch your legs so to speak! It’s not just about your legs though. Let’s look at the 6 Muscles you should stretch if you sit all day.
The thing about chairs, couches, transit vans or whatever else it is that your job requires you to physically sit on is that they support your body weight. In doing so, you’re not actively engaging your core muscles plus your ankles, knees and hips will begin to stiffen up and potentially weaken as they are being under-utilized.
It’s not just your lower body muscles that are affected either. Your shoulders can begin to round too, your back starts to hunch and worse still, that circulation can slow down to such an extent that besides the concern about weight gain due to inactivity, you may even begin to feel symptoms of depression too.
If you are able to invest in standing desk mat that’s a great option as it will get you up on your feet for periods of the day, engaging those big leg muscles and encouraging your body to support its own weight rather than relying on an office chair to do that job for you. Switching to a placing your laptop on a higher stand position too that will force you to get off your backside and onto your feet is also an effective and budget-friendly option if a new standing desk isn’t currently a practical purchase.
If you are trapped in a chair, it’s good to fidget! You need to get up and about every 20 minutes or so to encourage blood flow and to keep your body’s metabolism ticking over. Besides stretching your legs with a walk to the water fountain and back, there are a couple of other critical body parts you should keep flexible and mobilize in order to counter the joint stiffening and muscle weakening effects of being sat in that office chair or even a gaming chair on a late night extended video game session!
Below we’re going to run you through 6 dynamic stretches for key body parts that will significantly counteract the detrimental effects of being sat on your behind all day long. Each of these exercises works a key set of muscles that need to be regularly stretched, and we recommend that you hold them statically for at least 30 seconds to get the full benefit. If you can manage to fit this series into your work schedule, we recommend you try and repeat each of these 6 exercises at least twice a day.
The Supported Backbend
Why do it? We spend so much time hunched over that it’s important to stretch our back out the opposite way and to open the front of our chest and heart. Bending backward can do wonders in correcting bad posture and will stretch the muscles that support the spine.
What to do? Start by positioning yourself close to a wall and standing away from it. Place your hands over your head with your elbows bent and your palms facing towards the back of the wall. Lean backward and catch your body weight with your hands then gently begin to walk your hands down the wall until you can feel a gentle stretch in your back. Start out slow and gentle, and as you progress, you can go deeper into the stretch by challenging the flexibility of your back and taking your hands that little bit lower every day. You back will love you for it.
Work Those Legs And Core With A Lunge Rotation
Why do it? With just this one stretch you can target the legs and shoulders, hips and spine. It’s a highly effective way of getting some much-needed rotation info your body and ensuring healthy spinal movement plus it will free up tight hips, a widespread complaint from being seated all day long.
What to do? From a standing position take a big step forward on one leg and bend your knee at a right angle into a lunge position. To take this move a step further and encourage a spinal twist, place both hands on the ground either side of your foot then lift one arm to the ceiling and gaze upwards in the direction of your arm. Inhale and exhale deeply going further into the stretching and twisting more each time. Don’t forget to switch sides and repeat holding statically on each side for 30 seconds. You can literally do this move anywhere assuming you have space to stand.
Open Up Those Shoulders And The Back Of Your Body
Why do it? The thing about being seated all day, especially if you are over a gaming desk, is that your shoulders pull inwards and your chest starts to collapse, leading to your back rounding. You need to open the chest and draw the shoulder back for correct alignment and posture.
What to do? Get up onto your feet and stand up straight and tall taking something like a towel, your belt or a strap in both hands behind your back. Simply raise both your arms up at the same time as high as possible so that you can feel that whole front of your body opening but without causing discomfort. Actively engage those shoulder blades and pull your shoulders back and down then try lifting your arms that bit higher. As with the supported backbend, this is one of those exercises that the more you practice, the greater the benefit and the more you will begin to see progress.
Open Up The Front Of Your Body With A Cobra
Why do it? Sitting down all day means that your glutes and hamstrings, in particular, can get really tight and uncomfortable. Take a cue from those yogis you know and treat your body to 30 seconds in the Cobra position which is going to open up your hips a total treat.
What to do? Lie facedown preferably with your ankles elevated on something like a foam roller, yoga blocks or you could just use a couple of even sizes books. Press your forearms down into the floor, pull those shoulders back and down and raise your head up and back. This will really activate the glutes while stretching out those tight hip flexors.
Reach For The Stars Raising Those Arms And Elevating Your Heels
Why do it? With this one simple move that you can do any time and any place, you lengthen and stretch all your muscles including shoulders, chest, back, hips, and ankles. It’s one stretch that offers the perfect antidote to being seated all day.
What to do? Get up out of your seat and onto your feet. Stand with your legs apart slightly wider than your hips and reach those arms up to the sky with your palms facing upwards, so you create a star shape with your arms and legs. Spread those fingers and reach up high onto your tiptoes so that you really are stretching the entire extremities of your body in one go.
Seated Leg Stretch
Why do it? If you are sitting down, the least you can do is to sit actively. With this move, you can really stretch out a muscle called the piriformis which sits in your rear end and can cause overly tight glutes. This simple seated leg stretch will help keep you more mobile.
What to do? While in that seated position, cross one ankle over your thigh and apply gentle pressure to the inside of your knee. To go even deeper into this stretch, bend your body forward and down over your leg so that you really target that glute. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds, breathing deeply as you get down further into the stretch. Swap sides and repeat and enjoy this deep stretch.
So there you have it. 6 highly effective and targeted stretches that are brilliant at counteracting the detrimental muscle tightening effects of being in a sedentary position for long periods.