6 simple stretches to counter sitting down all day
If sitting down all day leaves you feeling a little stiff, then practicing some simple stretches can help.
While sitting for prolonged periods has been linked to a multitude of health concerns, such as a slower metabolism and obesity, it’s often unavoidable with more of us working from home than ever.
So, what can we do about it, aside from making a concerted effort to stand up and shake off every hour? We highlight six of our favourite stretches and mobility exercises that can help to counter sitting down for long periods.
Remember, come out of these exercises if you feel any pain.
Simple stretches to counter sitting down all day
A classic pose many yoga fans will be familiar with, downward dog helps to stretch out the hamstrings and calves, and ease any tension in the back and neck.
Starting on your hands and knees, lift your hips up towards the sky. Shift your weight back into your heels to make your body in an inverted letter ‘V’. Relax your heels down towards the floor, as your sitting bones reach towards the sky.
If you feel any tension in your back, bend your knees to make the posture more comfortable.
Make sure your head and neck are relaxed, and take a few breaths before coming back down to the floor.
Sitting down for prolonged periods often means we’re hunched over a laptop or computer, no matter how slick our desk set-up is.
The simple cat-cow exercise can help to ease out any aches and pains you may be feeling in your back.
On all fours, inhale and lower your belly towards the mat as you lift the gaze and tailbone towards the sky. As you exhale, arch your back up towards the ceiling, bringing your chin in towards the chest.
Take a few rounds of each to help mobilise the spine.
Perching on a chair all day can often leave us with tight hips. This is because sitting can cause your hip flexors to shorten, which can leave us feeling a little stiff in this area.
Simple hip rotations can help to loosen things up, especially when performed regularly.
With your feet hip width apart, lift one leg up to 90 degrees so your thigh is parallel to the floor. Move your leg out to the side in a circular motion, so that your shin is now parallel to the floor before returning to the original position.
Repeat this circular motion before switching to the other leg. This is a great pose to challenge your balance, too.
‘Tech neck’ is becoming more and more common with us staring at mobile phones, laptops and other digital devices.
It can cause stiffness around the neck and shoulders area, but neck stretches can help.
To do this exericse, simply tilt your head to the left shoulder to ease out any aching, before doing the same to the right shoulder.
If you like, you can gently place your hand on your head to add a little more resistance to the stretch.
Repeat a handful of times, ensuring you don’t stretch past your limits.
Rag doll forward fold
A rag doll forward fold can help to loosen any tight hamstrings that are a result of sitting for most of your day.
With your feet hip-width apart and with a gentle bend in your knees (make sure you don’t lock them), fold your body forwards towards your legs.
Hold onto each elbow and gently sway from side to side.
Stay in the pose for a few breaths, enjoying the stretch down the back of the body.
To release, lower down onto the knees on the floor, or come back up to standing.
If you find your posture is less than perfect after a day of sitting like a crumpled croissant, chest openers are a great way to counter this.
Standing with your feet hip width apart, interlace your fingers behind your back. Your palms can face either way. Then stretch your arms backwards while pushing your chest forwards.
Feel the stretch opening you up across your chest. Hold for a breath or two, and then gently release.