A 9 AM – 5 PM desk job requires you to sit for almost all of those 8 hours of work. However, given the fact that we’re all present in an office, the possibility of each one of us getting out of our chairs is higher. Add to that our daily commute which is a workout in itself. So it’s safe to say that pre-pandemic, we weren’t sitting as much and for hours these long as we are now—mid-pandemic. Working from home was quite fascinating at first, but the work has increased tenfold and so most of us end up sitting a lot more than required. Same goes for school-going or college-going students who have their lectures online. So it doesn’t come as a big shocker that whilst we’re all dealing with a pandemic, we’re simultaneously giving rise to an endemic. One that involves problems with our bones and muscles.
How many of you find yourselves complaining of constant muscle pains, backaches or a generalised feeling of discomfort? Thanks to our new lifestyle, one that’s quite unhealthy and risky that can lead to many bodily problems in the future. For many, time is an unaffordable luxury given the scenario of remote working. And therefore making time for exercise seems difficult. But if you find yourself sitting almost all day long, you’re not only going to have to break that chain by moving around every 30 minutes, but also giving these 7 easy-to-do stretches to relieve your muscles. And to experience that feeling of lightness that will ultimately lead you to rework your timetable to include a quick session of exercise because you’ll learn how good it really feels!
We got in touch with Swapneel Hazare—a strength and conditioning coach who gave us a lowdown on stretches you can practice at home, how to do them and the benefits you’ll reap. Scroll ahead to know more.
7 easy-to-do stretches if you find yourself sitting for long hours:
1. Downward Dog to Cobra
Benefit: Downward dog is an excellent posterior chain exercise which opens up your shoulders, back hamstrings and calves. Cobra targets opening of the anterior chain consisting of quadriceps, abdominal muscles, chest and shoulders.
For a downward dog position, get into an all 4’s/tabletop position with your palms and knees placed on the floor. Make sure your hands and legs are shoulder-width apart with fingers and toes pointing straight ahead. Slowly push your hip upwards by straightening the knees and elbows and forming an inverted V shape with your body. For a deeper stretch, push your head towards your knees and press your heels into the floor. From this position transition to the cobra by slowly dropping your hips to the floor and looking towards the ceiling. Ensure you drop your pelvis completely on the floor. Make sure you practice this transition 10 times to maximize the benefits of the stretch.
2. Runner’s Lunge
Benefit: Runner’s lunge is known as the world’s greatest stretch as its excellent mobility relieves and loosens your hip, abductors and groin.
Get into a push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart and palms placed on the floor, perpendicular to your shoulders. Move your right leg forward and place it as close as possible to your right palm. Get your hips as low as possible to the floor without touching your left knee to the floor. If you want to further increase the stretch, place both forearms on the ground and hold the position for 30 seconds. Gradually return to your starting push-up position and repeat with the left leg. Perform this stretch for both the legs 3-4 times.
3. Thoracic Rotations
Benefit: Thoracic rotations are an excellent mobility exercise for the thoracic region (upper back) as these rotational movements improve your posture. Good thoracic mobility ensures good spinal curvature and lesser shoulder, lower back and cervical problems.
Get on the floor in an all 4’s/tabletop position with your knees stacked under your hips and palms under your shoulders. Place your right palm behind your head. Slowly rotate your upper back downward so your right elbow is pointed towards your left elbow. From here, move on to raising your right elbow towards the ceiling by rotating your upper back, shoulders and head. Do this movement 10 times in a slow and controlled manner, working up the range in each passing repetition.
4. Kneeling Quad Stretch
Benefit: Kneeling quad stretch helps stretch your quads and hip flexors. They help in opening up your chest muscles too. Lengthening your quadriceps and hip flexors will help you correct your posture and deal with knee pain caused by tight muscles.
Get into a split stance with your left foot in the front and right foot behind. Lower and rest the right knee down and get into a half-kneeling position. Lift your right ankle and pull it towards your butt with the help of your hands. Hold this position for a good 30 to 45 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
5. Pigeon Stretch
Benefit: Pigeon stretch is an effective exercise to open up the hip and stretch the glutes. It is very helpful for people suffering from lower back pain and sciatica.
Get into a high plank position with your palms placed directly under your shoulder. Bring your right leg forward and place it in a way that the right knee is closer to your right palm and your right foot is close to your left palm. Ensure the left leg is kept as straight as possible and your hips and chest are facing forward. Slowly drop down to your forearms to increase the stretch. Try this for a good 5-10 seconds and repeat on the other side.
6. Over and Under The Shoulder
Benefit: Over and under the shoulder stretch is an excellent exercise to stretch the rotator cuff and enhance the range of motion in the shoulder muscles and joints.
Stand straight and keep your feet at shoulder-width distance. Place your right palm on the back with your elbow facing the ceiling. Reach for your right palm with your left palm whilst keep your left-side elbow facing downwards and then clasp your fingers together. Hold the stretch for 30 secs. Release and repeat with your left hand behind your head and right hand behind your back. If you cannot clasp your fingers, use a small towel with one hand over your head and grab the other end with the other hand.
7. Crab and Reach
Benefit: Crab and reach is an excellent mobility exercise that activates your posterior chain and lengthens your anterior chain. It is also an excellent full-body strength exercise included in many workouts and warm-up activation drills.
Sit down on a mat with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent at 90 degrees, palms placed on the floor that is right below the shoulder with fingers pointed away from the body. Now, lift your pelvis a few inches in the air. This is your starting position. From here lift your right hand and reach upwards, as high as you can over your chest. While doing this, push your hips up and twist your upper body to the left to get even higher. Once you achieve maximum height slowly return your right hand to its starting position and repeat the same with your left hand. Perform this 10 times on each side.
We hope to have inspired you enough to give these stretches a try. They’re fairly easy and come with a slew of benefits.
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