Exercises & Stretches for Sitting

Written By: Alex Lukac

We all know the feeling of being so stiff and uncomfortable from sitting all day. Whether you’re sitting at a desk at work, in a chair in a lecture hall, or on an airplane, our bodies often end up in pain from being in one position for a long time. It is important to move and stretch to get the blood flowing to all parts of your body to avoid discomfort.
Starting from top to bottom, here are some easy exercises and stretches you can do routinely as you sit to get the blood flowing to all parts of your body:

1. Neck stretching

Simply sit up straight, put your head back to touch your headrest, and tuck your chin back to get a “double chin”. You can also spend some time tilting your neck so that your ear comes close to your shoulder.

Many of us have adapted weak neck muscles because we are constantly looking down at our phones or lap tops. This puts us at risk for “text-neck” pain where we get headaches or upper back pain. Perform neck stretches routinely to prevent pain and discomfort.

2. Arm and Wrist Circles

Whenever we’re sitting, our arms are often in a fixed position with our fingers doing all the movements on our mobile devices or computers. This can lead to muscle cramping or, even worse, you can develop carpal tunnel syndrome or inflammation in your thumb. So get your shoulders, elbows and wrists moving gently in circles and stretch out your wrists and fingers by flexing and extending them.

3. Glutes Squeeze

Now this one may seem a bit strange, but it is important! Squeeze your butt cheeks, either both at the same time or one at a time, to enhance blood flow and strengthen in your buttocks! These muscles are so important for your posture and discomfort related to your lower back muscles.

4. Glutes Stretch

This is a great stretch to help alleviate any lower back pain and it’s a stretch that can be easily done at any time during your day. Simply place the outside of your ankle onto the opposite knee, and press down gently onto the top leg knee. You should feel a stretch in your gluteal muscles. Hold each stretch for 20-40s on each side.

5. Knee extension and ankle rolls

It’s simple! Just kick out your legs and move your ankles in circles to get them moving!

6. Stand up, walk around, and stretch your hip flexors

Stretching your hip flexors involves getting out of your seat but it is so important to do! When you’re sitting, your hip flexors are shortened in a contracted position so they often feel very tight after sitting for so long. Get yourself in a lunge position (one leg far in front of the other with both knees at 90 degrees) and lower the back knee to the ground. Now shift your torso forward, and you should feel a stretch in the front thigh of your back leg.

Remember that taking small breaks from your work to move will not only help with your comfort and wellbeing, but it will also help increase your focus and productivity!