In today’s society, many workers are sitting at desks and computers throughout the day with little exercise or movement. These sedentary positions can lead to numerous changes in the body. Most often, a rounded back develops along with elevated shoulders as the chest muscles tighten up and the upper back muscles weaken, unable to hold the shoulder blades back and down. Sometimes low back or other lower extremity muscular problems arise as the hip flexors become shortened and tight while the glutes become lengthened and weak. This can even create a “pooched” belly look when standing. The good news is that along with a sound full-body strength training routine, there are also some stretches you can do during the work day to help prevent these problems, reduce muscle tension, and improve circulation. You’ll find four great stretches below, as well as a few more you can find here. Hold each one for at least 30 seconds a minimum of once during each workday.
*Cross one arm at a time across the body and hug it into your chest with the opposite arm. Feel a stretch in the posterior capsule of the arm. Repeat with the other arm.
Front of Thigh Stretch
* Slowly lift one foot up behind you until you’re standing on one leg and grabbing your ankle. Line both knees up together and point the toes of the elevated foot towards the ground. Feel this stretch down the front of your hip and thigh. Repeat with the other leg.
Back of Thigh Stretch
* Extend one leg up into the air and rest it on a bench, chair, or stool. Keeping a flat back, lean forward from the hips until a stretch is felt along the back of the elevated leg. Repeat with the other leg.
* Stand to the side of a wall, about 6-12 inches away. Raise your hand until the palm is resting against the wall with the arm parallel to the ground. While keeping a slight bend in your elbow, lean forward and turn your body away from the elevated arm until you feel a stretch in your chest. Repeat on the other side.
In good health,
Ryan Healy, BS, NSCA-CSCS