If you’re deskbound during the day, you’re in a very specific position where muscles aren’t going through their natural, full range of motion, says Fetters. “Stretching is great to do every hour or two when you have breaks during the day,” she suggests. Make an effort to stretch every time you get up to go to the bathroom or grab a drink during your workday. This is also a good routine to add to your bedtime routine so you feel relaxed before bed, Fetters suggests. Releasing muscle tension by stretching—or doing yoga poses—allows you to relax, so you’re more likely to fall asleep faster.
Remember, you should feel a stretch, says Fetters. But it shouldn’t be painful. Breathe into each stretch and don’t bounce, she advises.
Try this roughly five-minute stretching routine to help release muscle tension, open up tight muscles, and reduce pain or risk of injury. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.
Clasp both hands behind you, near your butt, pull your shoulders down and hold the stretch for 30 seconds while taking deep breaths.
Chest openers are so important for people who are hunched forward most of the day, says Fetters. “Our lives are all about our shoulders going forward whether it’s over a phone or a computer or we’re just sitting on the couch. And all of those muscles in the chest are tightened and contracted,” she says. This stretch can help them get into the opposite position.
When you have tightness in your back, doing this chest-opening stretch can help relieve some of the tension and pull in the back, says Fetters.
You might find that you have neck, upper back, and shoulder pain if you’re typing at a computer all day, on phone calls, or bending your head and texting on your phone. You can do this stretch standing or sitting. Place one hand lightly on the top of your head, pulling your head towards one shoulder, stretching the opposite hand towards the ground. “Let your shoulder drop and hold this stretch,” advises Fetters. “A lot of us hold stress in this area, particularly if we work on computers all day.” Switch sides after 30 seconds.
Also called the piriformis muscle stretch, this is a good stretch for the hips, which can be really tight when you’re sitting all day, says Fetters. The piriformis muscles extend from the upper thighs to either side of the pelvis. Lie on your back on the floor or a mat with knees bent and feet on the floor. Cross your right ankle over the left knee. Think about making an upside-down figure four. Reach both arms through the thighs and pull the left thigh in towards your chest. Your left foot will come off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds. Then switch sides.
You might experience tight calves if you’re walking around in heels all day, or if you haven’t stretched your calves after a recent workout.
Place the ball of one foot up on a wall, press both hands against the wall, and lean forward. “Try to keep an upright posture while stretching one calf at a time,” suggests Fetters. Keep that back leg straight. If you bend it or you bend your heel, you’re going to stop stretch in there. Switch legs after 30 seconds.
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