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Stretches After Sitting All Day

Lead cooldown stretches that take increased screen time and sitting into account.

Hip hinge stretch

When the world changed in mid-March 2020, many jobs transitioned from traditional office settings to people’s homes. Though, for many, it meant fewer hours commuting, it also often meant sitting all day at a desk, on a couch or in another makeshift office space. Add longer workdays and a need to balance full-time jobs with child care and remote schooling, and you have a high-stress environment. What’s more, those imperfect workspaces themselves can lead to aches and pains. So how can group fitness instructors help?

Maybe you’re still teaching virtual workouts and can tell that the blending of work and home life is adding stress to an already difficult situation. Enter cooldown stretches, which not only help muscles return to a relaxed state but also provide a transition between morning exercise and the start of work hours or a pause at the end of the workday before home duties begin. Whether you’re teaching in person or on screen, encourage your class to use these simple, accessible moves, which you may have overlooked in your repertoire. Your clients will benefit from these helpful stretches after sitting all day.

See also: Prolonged Sitting May Undo Exercise Benefits


Cat cow stretch

This classic yoga move releases tension in the neck and back and stretches the abdomen and chest muscles.

  • Start on all fours, shoulders aligned over elbows and wrists.
  • Exhale: Lift head and chest, arching back.
  • Inhale: Round back and gaze toward floor.

Hip Hinge

Hip hinge stretch

Sitting all day can cause “sleepy glutes” and lead to lower-back pain. When done correctly, hip hinges activate the glutes and stretch the posterior chain.

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent.
  • Place hands behind head and lean forward, core engaged, bending at hips.
  • Keeping back straight, bend forward until chest is parallel to floor; return to start.

Chest opener stretch

Chest Opener

Sitting all day—whether in a car, on a couch, or at a desk or table—leads to rounded shoulders and tight pectoral muscles. Counter those tendencies with this move.

  • Grasp hands behind back, shoulders down, arms slightly lifted.
  • If this provides enough of a stretch, hold.
  • If you can go further, lift hands as high as is comfortable or bend forward for a folded chest opener.

Figure FourFigure four stretch

Sitting also leads to overly tight hips. For this stretch, have people choose the position that is best for their balance and flexibility.

  • Standing tall, place one ankle over opposite knee.
  • Slowly sit back until stretch is felt in hip and glute of bent leg. Grasp a sturdy piece of furniture for balance, if needed.
  • Option: Perform same move while lying on back.

Wrist Stretch

Wrist stretch

Most people use computers or devices for hours each day. Combat wrist issues with the following stretches.

  • Place arm straight out in front, palm up.
  • Using opposite hand, gently pull fingers down and back.
  • Perform periodically throughout the day to release tension in wrists and forearms.

See also: Better Stretch Options for Older Adults

Sara Lynn Baker, MS

Sara Lynn Baker, MS, is the director of training and education for Elevation Corporate Health and has worked in various capacities in the fitness industry for 16 years. She currently oversees 150 corporate fitness employees, ensuring they have the most up-to-date expertise in a constantly shifting industry. She also teaches group exercise, trains private clients and is an exam committee member with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Her goal as a fitness professional is to simplify healthy living and to educate others about the importance of movement, good nutrition and proper recovery.

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