Sitting or standing for a long period of time can take a toll on our muscles. To prevent or reduce stiffness and pain, try these simple stretches throughout the day.
Hold each stretch listed for 15-30 seconds, repeating two or three times, depending on how you feel. Please note that you can perform the upper body stretches while sitting in a chair.
With all stretches, stretch to the point of resistance or “mild discomfort”, not to the point of pain. Never bounce and straighten, and do not lock joints.
#1: Neck Stretch – Can do Sitting or Standing
Sit or stand with shoulders relaxed, back straight. Bring your left ear down toward your left shoulder and hold. Roll your head down toward the ground and bring your chin to your chest. Hold and, finally, roll your head to the right and bring that ear to your right shoulder. Inhale and exhale in a slow and controlled manner.
For a deeper stretch, extend the opposite arm down toward the ground and hold. You should be relaxing your neck muscles and using the weight of your head for this stretch. Do not attempt to force your head lower with your neck muscles or your hands. Stop immediately if you feel any discomfort.
#2: Chest Stretch
Stand tall or sit upright. Interlace your fingers behind your back and straighten your arms. With arms straight, lift arms up behind you while keeping your back straight and your shoulders down. Keep the shoulders relaxed, away from the ears.
#3: Standing Triceps Stretch
Stand tall or sit upright. Place your left elbow in your right hand. Reach your left arm overhead, placing palm on the center of your back and supporting the elbow in your right hand. Reach your fingertips down your spine. Keep the shoulders relaxed, away from the ears. Repeat with opposite arm.
#4: Shoulder Stretch
Stand tall or sit upright. Bring your left arm across your chest, holding it below the elbow with your opposite arm. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Breathe deeply and hold. Repeat on opposite side.
#5: Wrist and Biceps Stretch
Stand tall or sit upright (not pictured). Extend left arm in front of you, palm facing outward and fingertips pointing downward. Use your right hand to apply light pressure to the hand, as if pulling your fingertips toward your elbow. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Breathe deeply and hold. Repeat on opposite side.
#6: Wrist and Forearm Stretch
Stand tall or sit upright. Extend left arm in front of you, palm facing outward and fingertips pointing upward. Use your right hand to apply light pressure to the hand, as if pulling your fingertips toward your shoulder. Keep the shoulders relaxed, away from the ears. Breathe deeply and hold. Repeat on opposite side.
#7: Torso Stretch
Clasp hands together and slowly raise them above your head toward the ceiling. Reach as high as you can while inhaling deeply and hold for 20-30 seconds. Bring your hands down slowly while letting out your breath. Be sure to stay relaxed, being mindful of your breathing.
#8: Hamstring Stretch
Stand tall with back straight, abs engaged, shoulders down, and feet hip-width apart. Bring your left leg forward, heel down, toes up and leg straight. Keeping back straight and abs engaged, bend the right knee as if sitting back, while supporting yourself with both hands on your thighs. Repeat on opposite side. Keep back straight (do not arch or round the back) and chest lifted.
#9: Quad Stretch
Stand tall, holding onto a chair or wall for balance, if necessary. Keep your feet hip-width apart, your back straight and your feet parallel. Reach back and grab your left foot in your left hand, keeping your thighs lined up next to each other and left leg in line with the
hip (not pulled back behind you). Repeat on opposite side.
If you are too inflexible to keep your knees next to each other, allow the bent leg to come forward slightly and gradually progress to a position where the thigh of the bent leg is perpendicular to the floor.
#10: Inner Thigh Stretch
Stand tall with back straight, feet wider than the hips, toes turned out, abs engaged and arms at your sides. Slowly bend the knees, squatting straight down, hands supported on your thighs, until you feel a stretch through the inner thighs.
Keep your shoulders relaxed and your back straight. Don’t allow your knees to move past your toes (if that happens, take feet out wider).