Americans today sit more than any previous generation, with an astounding increase of 83% in sedentary jobs since 1950. That isn’t by choice, always, but true nonetheless. While our grandparents often toiled outdoors or physically labored in some form to earn a living, we are relegated to a desk, working at a computer for hours on end. Therefore, to counteract the negative effects of “sitting”, we need to stretch our bodies regularly. Keep in mind, according to Forbes, “it’s not the act of sitting itself that will kill you, but the repercussions of moving too little." Thankfully, by taking a stretching break and performing the following three stretches, you can promote movement in your body, while wearing your best exercise leggings, workout clothes or women's activewear sets :
Three Types of Stretches to do Every Day
1.) Chest Openers
There are a few variations on the traditional chest opener or chest stretch. I will cover two here:
Behind-the-Back Elbow-to-Elbow Grip:
- Do this either standing or seated. Hang your arms to the side and ensure your shoulders are pressed down, away from your ears.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and broaden your chest.
- Bring your arms behind your back and grip elbow-to-elbow.
Above The Head Stretch:
- Do this either sitting or standing. Begin by interlocking your fingers, while bending your elbows. Raise your arms above your head.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you move your hands and elbows backward.
- Change the height of your hands to stretch various parts of your chest and/or shoulders.
Instructions on Both Chest Opening Stretches:
- For both exercises, hold each stretch for between 15 and 30 seconds, or for 3 to 5 breaths.
- Don’t bounce, but allow your breathing to gently move you into a deeper and deeper stretch.
- Repeat each stretch 2 to 4 times.
2.) Lumbar Stretches
Lower back pain is problematic when trying to concentrate on your job, and it can certainly be aggravated by sitting at a desk. You will probably want to wait to do this once you are out of the office because you have to lie on the floor. I am going to share my favorite lumbar stretch to remedy that achy, lower back:
- Lay on your back, bending your knees and keeping your feet flat on the floor.
- Grab your lower right leg with both hands. Interlace fingers, or clasp your wrists underneath your knee.
- Keep your left foot on the floor and pull your right knee into your chest, until you feel the stretch in your lower back. Be gentle.
- Keep your knee pulled into your chest for between 30 and 60 seconds, while relaxing your lower back, hips, and legs.
- Then, release your right knee and return it to the floor.
- Repeat all the steps listed above with your left leg.
3.) Neck Stretches
It’s no surprise that neck pain is such a problem for us since we sit at a desk for hours daily. The following is a good way to stretch out this sometimes painful part of the body:
Forward and Backward Tilt or Neck Extension
- Do this either sitting or standing.
- Keep your head squarely over your shoulders and your back straight.
- Lower your chin to your chest and keep it there for between 15 and 30 seconds. Relax, then slowly return your head to the starting position.
- Then, tilt your chin up towards the ceiling. Hold this for 10 seconds then return to the beginning position.
- Repeat several times a day.
Complete the three types of stretches listed daily to prevent common back and neck pain due to a sedentary working environment.