Everyone knows that sitting for long periods of time is bad for your body and your mind. Getting the blood flowing helps you stay fresh with creativity, boosts energy and helps your body work more efficiently. Many of us don’t have the opportunity to get up and move around as often as we should. Here are 5 simple stretches you can do while sitting to improve your mind and body.
Sitting in your chair while keeping a long, tall spine, place your right hand on the outside of your left knee. Use that hand as leverage to twist to your left, and place your left hand as far to the right as possible to have something to hang onto while you twist. Now join it with your breath. Exhale as you move into your twist, inhale as you ease off. Repeat on the other side. Repeat each side 2-3 times.
Sitting on the edge of your chair, clasp your hands behind your back, opening up your chest and shoulders. Inhale/exhale several times, noticing that when you inhale your stretch increases. Release and repeat 2-3 times.
I call this one Seated Pigeon as it is a cousin to the yoga pose called Pigeon, which is performed lying on the floor. Clearly this isn’t an option at work. This Seated Pigeon version might not work if you are wearing a short skirt or dress unless you have an office to yourself!
Sit on the edge of your chair and place your right ankle over your left knee. Be sure that your left foot is directly under your left knee. Sit nice and tall, imagining a string is pulling the crown of your head up towards the ceiling. This one is great for releasing your gluteus medius and minimus muscles, as well as your piriformis muscles. These are your hip abductors. These are usually what aches when you sit so much! Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds, repeat each side 2-3 times.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Sitting truly shortens and tightens your little hip flexor muscle. It’s the one at the front in the crease of your hip. It runs through your pelvis to your back, so when it is tight it often presents with an achy back. To lengthen this one out while at your desk, sit at the edge of your chair but shift to face to your left. Take your right leg and extend it behind you with as straight a knee as you can. Sit tall and lift your sternum while trying to tuck your tailbone under. This increases the stretch. Repeat on the other side. Repeat both sides 2-3 times.
This is an easy one to do either just before you sit down or just after getting up. While standing, soften your right knee and extend your left leg in front of you with your heel on the floor. On your left leg, draw your toes upwards, keep your knee slightly bent so you don’t strain your ligaments behind your knee. You want to feel the stretch in the belly of the muscle (that is, your mid-thigh, at the back of your leg) rather than behind the knee. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and switch to the other side. Repeat each side 2-3 times.
It isn’t necessary to do all of the stretches all at once. Take a stretch break every 45 minutes or so and choose a couple of different stretches each time. Your brain and body will thank you for it!