Let’s face it, most of use spend a hefty amount of our time sat down. Whether it’s in front of the computer, the TV, whilst driving, reading or something else, the seated position has the potential to significantly impair our range of motion.
Rather than let those muscles stiffen into the stationary position though, by engaging in a few simple stretches to stimulate the movement of blood flow, you can loosen any tight areas, reduce neck and shoulder pain, improve flexibility and even decrease the chance of injury.
Here’s the best bit – there’s a tonne of powerful stretches that can be done from that oh-so-common seated position!
1. Neck Stretch
Loosening tight neck muscles is a must when sat stationary for long periods of time.
1. Sit up straight in your chair
2. Tilt your head towards your right, whilst keeping your shoulders level i.e. try not to lean your whole body
3. Place your right hand, on the left hand side of your head and apply a small amount of pressure until you feel the stretch through your neck and left shoulder
4. Hold the for around 20 -30seconds – don’t forget to breathe – before swapping to the other side.
There are a number of variations to this stretch, change step 3 by placing holding your left shoulder down with your right hand rather than applying the pressure to the side of your head. Both versions will stretch the same muscles – see which you prefer.
2. Shoulder Shrug
Hunching often happens without even realizing and can lead to tension in the shoulder muscles. This stretch is such a simple way to get the blood pumping to the shoulders.
1. Sit tall in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. You may like to move your position on the chair forward to ensure good posture.
2. Shrug your shoulders up as though you are trying to touch your ears with them.
3. Squeeze as hard as you can and hold for a few seconds before rolling them back down reaching your finger-tips to the floor.
4. Repeat for 5-10 reps.
3. Spinal Twist
The aches and pains of a tight lower back can be gently improved with this simple stretch
1. Whilst seated, place your feet flat on the floor.
2. Squeeze your abdominal muscle whilst you carefully rotate the torso towards the right.
You can support your body with your hands on the back of the chair but be sure not to stretch too far and keep your hips square.
3. Take two full deep breathes before return to the center position and then repeating on the other side.
4. Chest Stretch
This one is great for improving our all-important posture
1. Edge yourself forward so that you can sit upright without your back being up against the chair.
2. Pull your shoulders back and down and extend your arms out to either side of your body.
3. Gently push your chest forward until you feel the stretch across your chest
4. Hold the position for up to 10seconds before repeating 5-10 times.
5. Ankle Stretch
Most commonly prone to injury, our ankles need strength to support us in our every day movements.
1. Sit straight, holding each side of the chair for stability.
2. Straighten your left leg in front of you and point your toes away from you all the while holding your right foot flat on the floor
3. Point your toes back towards you and repeat 5-10 reps before swapping to the other foot.
6. Opposing Reaches
If you’re in an office and looking for subtle stretches, this one might raise a few eyebrows but why not use it as an opportunity to get others joining with you!
1. Sit sideways in your chair.
2. Reach one arm straight up above your head, whislt the other arm reaches for the floor.
3. Hold the position whilst taking 3 deep breaths before returning your arms and repeating for 5-10 reps.
4. Don’t forget to switch to the opposite side for the same number of reps.
7. Sitting back extensions/gentle backbend
This one has a fair few different names out their but the purpose of the stretch remains to same – to counter the natural decline into a hunched position by stretching your spinal extensors, neck and pectorals.
1. Sit straight with your feet flat on the floor
2. Bring the palms of your hands into the small of your back
3. Press your hands firmly into your lower back and lean back onto them, arching your spine
4. Hold for 3-5 deep breaths before returning to the starting position and repeating.
There are so many more seated stretches out there for you to try, the ones selected here have been chosen for the range in muscles they target. Our top-tip for long periods of stationary sitting would be to set an alarm every 45mins, to remind you engage those muscles, using a few of these simple stretches!