It’s a firm belief of mine that one of the best investments in one’s health is regular daily stretching, hence today we’re talking about some of the best desk-friendly chair stretches.
Just 10-15 minutes a day can make a big difference to your mobility and physical wellbeing. For optimal results, I like to preface the stretching routine with some self-myofascial release techniques.
Regular stretching becomes even more important given how prevalent the sedentary lifestyle is today.
Spending much of the day sitting is a sure recipe for muscle aches, stiffness, muscle imbalances, and postural deviations.
For example, prolonged sitting can lead to tightness in your hip flexors (the group of muscles that makes it possible to bring your legs and trunk together through flexion). Tight hip flexors can cause lower back and hip pain, poor posture, and limited range of motion.
Fortunately, there are some desk-friendly stretches that you can do without even getting up from your chair. The stretching exercises that I’ve selected here will target various muscle groups and relieve built-up tension in your entire body.
Although this stretching routine is quite dope, you should still make it a point to get up regularly and move a bit at least once every hour. No amount of chair stretching could undo the damage of sitting all day.
Before jumping to the stretches, remember that oftentimes the main culprit behind muscle aches and tightness is stress. Take a minute before starting, consciously relax your muscles and take a few deep breaths.
Chair Cat-Cow Stretch
Lead this stretch with your breath. Starting with the cow pose, inhale and arch your back as if to look up, pulling your shoulder blades together. Exhaling, slowly round your back, tucking your chin towards your chest, and pulling your belly button in.
Seated Trunk Rotation
Sit upright. Place your hands behind your head and slowly rotate your trunk to the side as far as you can go (without twisting your hips). Hold for a few seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Seated Forward Fold
This is one of my favorite chair stretches – so easy and so effective. Sit up straight, then fold your upper body over your legs, letting your head and shoulders hang limp. This stretch has the same calming effect the Child’s pose has. Enjoy it for as long as you feel like before slowly getting back up. You should feel a gentle stretch in your lower back.
Figure Four Stretch
This is a great stretch to release some tension you might be carrying in your glutes and hips. Sit up tall and straight, then place your ankle on your opposite knee. To make the stretch slightly more intense, you can gently press down on your knee. To deepen the stretch further, lean forward. Hold for 5 breathes and repeat on the opposite side.
Upper Trap Stretch
If you’re working in front of a screen, chances are you’re no stranger to a tight and painful neck.
Sit straight up, then either put your left hand behind your back or sit on it ( this will make the stretch more intense). Using your right hand, gently pull your head to the right. You should feel a nice stretch on the side of your neck. Hold it for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Levator Scapulae Stretch
The levator scapulae stretch starts very similarly to the upper trap stretch.
Sit on your left hand. Place your right hand on the back of your head and gently draw your head forward and to the right simultaneously. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
Seated Eagle Arms Stretch
If you’re struggling with some shoulder pain or discomfort, the eagle arms stretch is for you.
Stretch your arms in front of you (shoulder height) then put one under the other. Bend your elbows and twist your forearms so that your palms face each other.
Hold for 30 seconds then repeat with the opposite arm on top.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
Sitting at the edge of your chair, straighten your right in front of you, flex your foot, and lean slightly forward until you feel the nice stretch in your hamstring.
To make this chair stretch even more intense, lean forward and grab your toes. Keep the stretch for 15-30 seconds and switch sides.
Seated Pigeon Twist
This is another great stretch to target hip and lower back pain.
Sit upright and place your left ankle on your right thigh. Hold your left knee with both hands, gently pulling it towards you.
Inhale a slow, deep breath and while exhaling, twist your torso to the left.
If you spend a lot of time typing (and who doesn’t these days), you might find that there’s a lot of tension building up in your forearms. In the long term, this can negatively affect both your wrists and elbows. The stretch shown above can help you release some of that tension.
Wrist extension: Extend your left arm forward, extend your wrist so that your palm faces ahead of you, and using your other hand, gently pull your fingers towards yourself.
Wrist flexion: Same thing, but flex your wrist so that your palm faces yourself. Again, using your other hand, gently pull back.
Hold each position for about 10-15 seconds. Repeat as needed.