The Best Stretches to Perform During the Workday

Work – whether you’re sitting at a desk or performing manual labor – is hard on the body. For the majority of us, we sit at a desk all day. In a way, it’s human evolution happening in reverse. From hunched over apes to standing tall, the human race has begun to spend more time sitting and crouched over at computer desks.

But luckily, science continues to make substantial progress forward. And from what we know, there are various ways to combat the negative effects associated with sitting. Yet, it does require action on your part – meaning you’ll have to move a bit!

Stretching at regular intervals throughout your workday can help your body find balance again. It can further prevent aches and pains, as well as prevent injury from happening while you work.

In this article, we’re diving headfirst into this topic.

We’ll give you the lowdown on why stretching is beneficial, as well as the top 7 stretches you should be doing.

best workday stretches poster

Why Stretch?

Stretching has plenty of benefits. And it’s not all about reducing or eliminating pain either (although, this is a big part of it!). Stretching also has advantages contributing to overall improved well-being and health.

Generally, stretching increases your flexibility and mobility – which allows you to move easier. With greater ease of movement, you can move more and by doing so, improve blood flow throughout your body.

Plus, alleviating all that tension can help dissipate stress, which, arguably, there is more of in today’s go-go-go society.

To put it simply, use stretching to calm your mind, improve your general movement, and prevent future pain. But what stretches should you be doing? We’ve got you covered with our top 7 stretches you should perform during the workday.

7 Stretches to Relieve Your Aches and Pains

1. The Hip Flexor Stretch

If you sit all day, targeting the hip flexors with this stretch can help prevent back pain and prevent hip pain or stiffness. It can also make running and walking that much smoother since the hip flexor brings your thigh up toward the body.

How do you do it?

  • Position yourself in a low lunge, with your back knee on the floor.
  • Gently lean forward, keeping your torso straight, until you feel a stretch along the front of your hip.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  • Switch sides and repeat 2-3 times a day.

2. The Hamstring Stretch

The hamstrings can quickly become tight and aggravated after sitting for long durations. In turn, these muscles can pull on your pelvis, leading to the dreaded back pain. Luckily, regular stretching can reduce the shortening of this muscle and stop this from happening.

How do you do it?

  • Sit on the edge of a chair (ensure it’s stable and that it won’t tilt forward as you do so).
  • Straighten your right leg in front of you and plant your right heel on the floor.
  • Gently lean in toward your right leg. You should feel a gentle stretch along the back of your right leg.
  • Hold here for 20-30 seconds.
  • Repeat on your left side and aim to do this stretch about 2-3 times a day.

3. The Forward Fold

In physical therapy, many therapists will perform ‘traction’ techniques on their patients. These traction techniques create space within the joints of the body, such as the spine. Yet, you can mimic this on your own. The forward fold is a great way to do so and to create space between vertebrae in your back, taking the pressure and tension off.

How do you do it?

  • Stand tall with your feet close together.
  • Bring your arms up high and then dive straight down.
  • Allow your arms to hang limp or hold your elbows with your opposite hands.
  • Hang out here for about 5 breaths or 20-30 seconds.
  • You can do this one as many times a day as you need it.

4. Child’s Pose

This stretch is an all-around good one for your back, hips, ankles, and thighs. You’ll know what we mean once you try it.

How do you do it?

  • Begin on all fours.
  • Slowly and gently bring your buttocks back to sit on your heels while keeping your arms straight.
  • Rest your forehead on the ground and allow your body to relax into itself.
  • Hold here for 30 seconds to a minute. This is another stretch you can do as many times as you need it.

5. The Chest Stretch

The chest often becomes tight when a person hunches forward at their desk – in combination with the upper back muscle becoming weak. However, the chest stretch can feel not only oh-so-good but also help reduce the tension this poor postural position can create. (And it can also help improve your posture!)

How do you do it?

  • Find an empty corner in a room.
  • Place both your hands and forearms on the wall. Your elbows should be at about shoulder height.
  • Step forward and lean your upper body into the corner – without moving your hands or forearms. You should feel a stretch through your chest.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds and do this 2-3 times a day.

6. The Standing Wide-Leg Stretch

This can help release tension in the inner thighs. You may also need a chair or table to make this one work.

How do you do it?

  • Stand in front of a sturdy table or chair.
  • Spread your feet wide.
  • Bend forward at the hips (don’t hunch your back) and either place your hands on the chair or table – or if you can, bring your hands down to touch the floor.
  • You should feel a stretch along your inner thighs.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times a day.

7. The Towel Shoulder Stretch

The shoulders are susceptible to injury due to their high mobility. This is one joint that you can move almost any way you want. However, shoulder pain is common. And this shoulder stretch can help reduce your odds of experiencing it.

How do you do it?

  • Grab a towel in your right hand.
  • Bring your right hand up and over, hanging it behind your head and upper back and allowing the towel to hang.
  • Grab the towel with your left hand, and gently pull it down until you feel a stretch through your right shoulder.
  • Hold here for 20-30 seconds. Switch sides and do this stretch 2-3 times a day.

Take Those Stretch Breaks!

Your body needs them, and likely, so do you. Relieve a bit of stress. Give your body some self-care. When it comes down to it, good health and no pain are all about balance. Stretching can give you a little bit of this!

Worried it might be your office set-up causing you aches and pains? Check out what ergonomic office chairs and standing desks we recommend so that you can stay comfortable while you work.

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