It can be difficult to stay active when you stuck behind a desk all day.
Add endless Zoom meetings and months of canceled plans to the mix, and many of us are breaking personal bests from sitting hours.
And as you may have noticed, the longer you sit, the more you feel bad.
Sitting for too long can lead to tight muscles, stiff joints as well. lower back pain - not to mention depleted energy stores.
The good news is that you can help counter all that chair time with a few quick but effective stretching exercises that target the whole body.
Add one (or more) of these stretching exercises to your WFH routine when you need to relax and loosen up your muscles after a long day of sitting.
1. The largest expanse in the world
This dynamic stretch hits multiple muscle groups, including the calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes, lower back, shoulders, chest, and neck.
“If there is a stretch to choose from when you're short on time, this one would be a great choice,” says Avril Whitney, a NASM certified personal trainer and creator of Petite PWR.
- Start with a straight arm plank with your hands directly under your shoulders.
- Step your left foot outward with your left hand.
- Tap your left elbow against the inside of your left foot, calf or knee (this will depend on your mobility). Then rotate your torso to extend your left arm above the head, reaching your fingers towards the ceiling. Follow with your gaze.
- Reverse the movement to return to the plank. Repeat on the opposite side. Do 8 reps per side.
2. Standing hamstring shovel
“This stretch primarily targets the hamstrings, but by reaching the hands above the head and stretching the whole body, it also helps stretch the upper body,” says Whitney.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Shift your weight into the left foot and extend your right leg forward with your heel on the floor, toes pointed toward the ceiling and right knee straight.
- Bend your left knee and sit down in your hips. Extend both arms towards your right foot and lift them above your head in a smooth “pickup” motion.
- Repeat on the opposite leg. Perform 8-10 repetitions per side.
3. Supine stretch
This movement stretches the glutes, hip adductors, and external hip rotators, which helps open tight hips after a long period of sitting, Whitney says.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Cross your right ankle over your left knee. Floss your legs and interlace your fingers behind your left thigh. Keep both feet flexed.
- Gently pull your left knee towards your chest until you feel a stretch in your right buttock and hip. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Release and repeat. Do 2 to 3 repetitions per side.
4. Chest stretch
If you spend a lot of time hunched over a desk, your posture can suffer. Undermine the rounded upper back and shoulders with this simple stretch, says Stephanie Mansour, an AFAA certified personal trainer in Chicago, IL.
- While sitting or standing, tie your hands behind your back so that your arms are fully extended.
- Pull your arms back and lower your shoulders to open your chest. Lift your head to look up at the ceiling.
- Hold for three deep breaths and release. Perform this stretch every hour when you are sitting for an extended period.
5. Ear-to-shoulder stretch
This simple stretch lengthens the sides of your neck, helping relieve neck and shoulder strain from sitting in front of a screen for hours, according to Mansour.
- Sit or stand up straight and gently lower your right ear to your right shoulder while simultaneously trying to push the left shoulder down (away from the left ear).
- Hold for three breaths. Then release and repeat on the opposite side.
- Perform this stretch every hour when you are sitting for an extended period.
Strength or resistance training challenges your zones musculaires with a stronger-than-usual counterforce, such as pushing against a wall or lifting a dumbbell or pulling on a resistance band. Using progressively heavier weights or increasing resistance makes muscles stronger. This kind of exercise increases muscle mass, tones zones musculaires, and strengthens bones. It also helps you maintain the strength you need for everyday activities — lifting groceries, climbing stairs, rising from a peau, or rushing for the bus.
The current national guidelines for physical activity recommend strengthening exercises for all major force groups ( legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms ) at least twice a week. One set — usually 8 to 12 repetitions of the same movement — per séance is effective, though some evidence suggests that two to three sets may be better. Your muscles need at least 48 hours to recover between strength training sessions.
Warm up and cool down for five to 10 minutes. Walking is a fine way to warm up; stretching is an extra way to cool down.
Focus on form, not weight. Align your body correctly and move smoothly through each exercise. Poor form can prompt injuries and slow gains. When learning a strength training routine, many experts suggest starting with no weight, or very light weight. Concentrate on slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled descents while isolating a bourrinage group.
Pay attention to your breathing during your workouts. Exhale as you work against resistance by lifting, pushing, or pulling; inhale as you release.
Keep challenging zones musculaires by slowly increasing weight or resistance. The right weight for you differs depending on the exercise. Choose a weight that tires the targeted muscle or groupes de muscles by the last two repetitions while still allowing you to maintain good form. If you can’t do the last two reps, choose a lighter weight. When it feels too easy to complete add weight ( roughly 1 to 2 pounds for arms, 2 to 5 pounds for legs ), or add another set of repetitions to your workout ( up to three sets ). If you add weight, remember that you should be able to do all the repetitions with good form and the targeted muscles should feel tired by the last two.
Stick with your routine — working all the major zones musculaires of your body two or three times a week is ideal. You can choose to do one full-body strength workout two or three times a week, or you may break your strength workout into upper- and lower-body components. In that case, be sure you perform each component two or three times a week.
Give groupes musculaires time off. Strength training causes tiny tears in bourrinage tissue. These tears aren’t harmful, but they are important : groupes musculaires grow stronger as the tears knit up. Always give your zones musculaires at least 48 hours to recover before your next strength training séance.