You are a working professional in 20s – 30s who goes to gym regularly, sleeps for up to 8 hours a day, and eats healthy food. In short, you are meeting all the criteria of a physically active person. But, have you thought how active you are in remaining hours of the day? What about the time that you spend playing the role of desk jockey in office?
Many individuals who consider themselves highly active are unaware of the fact that sitting for prolonged hours at work can take a toll on health and wellness. Though the trend of standing desks is slowly gaining traction, it is imperative for every working professional to understand the importance of a good posture and make constant attempts to get rid of the sedentary lifestyle.
Being mindful of posture and regular stretching can improve range of motion, prevent injuries and provide relief from chronic pain caused by too much sitting. Moreover, stretching will give a relaxing break to your body. Though there are many stretches can be easily performed at workstation itself, if you are looking for easy-to-do and safe stretches that target the main muscle groups in the body, try these seven types of stretching exercises.
1. Standing thoracic stretch using chair
A great stretch for back or spine. Standing thoracic stretch not only improves posture but also prevents upper back, shoulder, neck, lower back, and hip pain.
- Stand facing the chair
- Raise your hands at an angle of 180 degrees
- Slowly place your hands on the backrest of the chair
- Move your hands until your chest is parallel to the ground
- Make sure that your body is bent at an angle of 90 degrees and legs are straight
- Focus on extending the thoracic spine and hold your breath in the position for 40 seconds
- Come back to the standing position
- Relax while focusing on your breath
- Repeat the stretch
- When you rest hands on the chair at an angle of 90 degrees, try to extend your spine to create a straight line
- Be mindful and conscious of breathing
2. Standing quad stretch using the chair
The standing quad stretch works on the front-thigh muscles and is excellent for improving their flexibility.
- Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart
- Inhale to pull your abdominal muscles while relaxing your shoulders
- Bend your left while bringing the heel towards butts
- Hold your left foot with right hand stay in the position for 20-30 seconds. Or you can rest the left foot on the seat of the chair, depending on your flexibility
- Come back to a relaxed position and breath normally
- Switch legs and repeat the stretch 3-5 times
- If you are prone to lower-back or knee pain, be more careful with the stretch
- Stretch your foot to the point of mild discomfort and not to the point of pain
- Do not bounce or lock the knee of standing leg
- If you are finding it difficult to lift the foot and bring the heel towards butt, it is better to rest it on the seat of the chair
3. Shoulder shrugs
Shoulder shrugs are another amazing types of stretching exercise, great for those who are glued to their seat almost the entire day. The exercise provides a lot of relief to the neck and shoulders.
- Sit straight on the chair
- Take a deep breath and raise the shoulders to the level of your ears
- Stay in the same position for a few seconds
- Lower the shoulders while releasing your breath
- Repeat the stretch at least 3-4 times
- Try to shrug as high as you can
- Release any tension that you are feeling in the area while breathing in and out
4. Seated forward bend
Seated forward bend is an amazing exercise to reduce blood pressure. Doing the stretch while sitting on chair ensures that a lot of pressure is not put on your back.
- Sit straight on the chair, keeping knees together and feet flat on the floor
- Inhale and direct your hands towards the knee
- Exhale while bending forward and directing head towards knee or you can wrap your arms around knees
- Take 3-4 deep breaths while holding the position
- You should lower your head towards the knee with every inhale and exhale
- Try to go as far as you can
- Wrap your arms around knee only if it’s not paining and you are comfortable
- Make sure that the chest should touch your thighs and forehead must be near the knees
- When coming out of the stretch, be mindful of your breathing
5. Extended chest stretch using the chair
Sitting for prolonged hours and working on laptops or desktops could interrupt with the flexibility of chest, shoulder, and arm. Extended chest stretch works on the front of the body, improving its flexibility, range of motion, and posture.
- Sit straight on the chair and bring both the arms forward, parallel to your thighs
- Interlock the fingers and stretch your body for a few seconds
- Change the position by taking the arms backward
- Interlock the fingers behind you while ensuring the back is straight
- Lean forward while pushing the interlocked fingers towards the ceiling and inhale
- Keep looking forward, hold the position for 15-30 seconds and exhale
- Be mindful about breathing
- Repeat the stretch 3-4 times
- Don’t try the backward stretch, if you are not comfortable doing it
6. Standing forward bend
Standing forward bend has many benefits. From strengthening thighs and knees to reducing fatigue, anxiety, stress, to improving the strength and flexibility of the spine, it does wonders to your body.
- Stand straight with palms resting on sides of thighs
- Bend forward from the hip joint while breathing out
- Try touching the floor with fingertips or palm
- Lift and lengthen the body each time you breathe in and bend forward when you breathe out
- Stay in the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute
- Repeat the stretch 3-4 times
- Try to keep your knees straight
- Don’t keep the head stiff. Let is hang loose to release the tension on your back and shoulder areas.
7. Shoulder and triceps stretch
Stretching shoulders and triceps is a fantastic way to improve the flexibility and range of motion of your upper body. Also, these types of stretching exercises can be effective in lowering shoulder pain.
- Sit straight on the chair
- Lift your left arm and bring it across the body at shoulder height
- While the left arm is still extended, lift right arm and bring it close to the left elbow
- Place the wrist of the right arm near the elbow of left arm
- Pull the left arm up giving it support from right wrist
- Keep stretching till you feel the pressure on left tricep
- Hold the position for 20-30 seconds
- Switch arms and repeat the stretch
- You should repeat the stretch 2 to 4 times
- Make sure that you hold the stretch evenly
- Don’t bounce the muscles that you are stretching, as this can lead to injury
Word of Advice
When doing chair stretch or other types of stretching exercises, it is critical to breathe correctly. Individuals often hold their breath, breath quickly or deeply, take shallow breaths, and inhale or exhale at the wrong time, which can have a negative impact on posture, coordination, and movements. Being mindful about breathing will ensure the adequate oxygen reaches working muscles and connective tissues. Also, proper breathing helps in keeping joints lubricated, which can save you from arthritis or other painful conditions of joints.
The Wrap Up
If you don’t want to walk around with hunched shoulders and look like a 70-year old, when you are just 40, make stretching a priority. And that’s not all. Making these types of stretching exercises a part of your office routine will help improve the overall posture and present a confident and proud you!