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The Best Stretches If You Sit All Day

Continuing from our post last month, Rebalance physical therapist Dr. Andrea Barberio will be demonstrating a few stretches and exercises to relieve pain during your workday

Head and Neck Stretches:

Staring at screens or working at a desk all day can cause tension to build up into your head and neck, which may lead to pain, loss of range of motion, and headaches. Here are some stretches you can do to break up tightness in your head and neck:

Chin Tuck:

  1. Envision you are pulling your chin back slightly, creating a slight tuck of your chin to your chest.
  2. Hold your chin tuck for a few seconds (2-3 seconds) and release. Repeat 5-10x depending on time.
  3. Chink tucks should create a stretch in the back of the head and neck.

Upper Trap Stretch 1:

  1. Perform a slight chin tuck as described above
  2. Move your ear towards the same-side shoulder
  3. Hold for ~10 seconds and switch sides. Repeat 1-5x depending on time
  4. You’ll feel a stretch on the opposite side of the neck

Upper Trap Stretch 2:

  1. Perform a slight chin tuck as described above
  2. Point your nose down towards your armpit
  3. Hold for ~10 seconds and switch sides. Repeat 1-5x depending on time
  4. You’ll feel a stretch along the back and side of your neck on the opposite side.

Chest Stretch:

There are varying levels for this chest stretch depending on your muscle flexibility. For all levels of the chest stretch, you should be feeling a stretch along your pec muscles, or chest muscles.

Level 1:

  1. Stand by a wall with your hand down at your side
  2. Place your hand on the wall with the palm facing towards the wall
  3. Lean your body forward and press your hand into the wall
  4. Hold for ~20 sec. Repeat 1-2x and switch sides.

Level 2:

  1. Stand by a wall with your hand out at the level of your shoulder
  2. Place your hand on the wall with the palm facing towards the wall
  3. Lean your body forward and press your hand into the wall
  4. Hold for ~20 sec. Repeat 1-2x and switch sides.

Level 3:

  1. Stand by a wall with your arm bent to 90 degrees in a goal post position
  2. Place your hand and forearm on the wall with the palm facing towards the wall
  3. Lean your body forward and press your hand and forearm into the wall
  4. Hold for ~20 sec. Repeat 1-2x and switch sides.

Hip and Spine Stretches:

Sitting for extended periods of time, every day, can create tension and tightness in the hip and back. Like the head and the neck, tightness in the hips and back can create pain, loss of range of motion, and even pelvic floor dysfunction. Here are some stretches you can do to release tension in your hips and spine:

Seated Twist:

  1. Performed in sitting, sit straight up with your feet flat on the floor and knees hips width apart
  2. Make sure that your knees and toes stay pointing forward the whole time
  3. Bring one hand to your opposite knee and being to twist towards your opposite knee
  4. Bring the opposite hand to the arm of the chair or the back of the chair
  5. Hold for ~20 sec. Repeat 1-2x and switch sides.

Standing Spine Extension:

  1. Standing, bring your hands to your hips
  2. Engage your belly muscles and squeeze your glutes
  3. Lift up through the chest and arch backwards slightly
  4. Hold for ~10 sec. Repeat 1-3x.
  5. You should feel this stretch along the front of your hips and belly

Standing Side Bend:

  1. Standing, bring one hand to your hip
  2. Stretch the opposite arm up and over towards the side where your hand is on your hip
  3. Hold for ~10-20 sec. Repeat on the second side.
  4. You should feel this stretch along the sides of your body

Standing Quad Stretch:

  1. A chair or counter is helpful for this stretch for balance and maintaining the stretch
  2. Band your knee and use your hand to hold your foot.
  3. Hold for ~10-20 sec and switch sides. Repeat 1-2x.
  4. You should feel this stretch on the front of your thigh and hip of the bent leg.
  5. If you cannot hold the foot, you can rest your foot behind you on a chair

Written by Andrea Barberio, PT, DPT

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