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Stretches for Nine-to-Fivers

Fitday Editor
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For most people who work 8 or more hours a day, being stuck at a desk doesn't just hinder the amount of physical activity you get in a day, it can also tax the body in many other ways. Sitting still may make you feel stiff and sore, your head might feel foggy, and your energy levels are sure to dip. To help keep your body moving and your head clear, try a few stretches you can do right at your desk and mostly in your seat.

Shoulder Stretch and Fold

Stretching your shoulders can help reduce stiffness along the shoulders and neck that builds up from typing and staring at a computer for hours on end. It can also help reduce any stress or tension that you might be holding in that area. Sit on the edge of your chair, pushed away from your desk. Reach your arms behind you and clasp your hands together, with your palms facing each other and your fingers interlaced. Stretch your arms down and away from your back as you lift your chest and roll your shoulder-blades together. Hold for five breaths. After your fifth breath, keep your hands clasped and fold forward. See if you can bring your torso to your thighs and let your head drop in front of your knees. This will help to release tension in the neck. Hold for five more breaths.

Desk Forward Fold

Even when you sit all day, your leg muscles can become stiff and tense. This is because sitting means you are keeping the knees bent and shortening some of the tissues in the legs for long periods of time. Stretching the hamstrings, along the back of the thighs, will help prevent and tightness, keep you limber, and help reduce injury. This stretch also helps to stretch the chest and lengthen the spine. Stand at your desk and push your chair out behind you. Place your hand on your desk and walk back until your arms and back are both straight. Bring your feet right under your hips, so your legs are straight. Hold in this deep stretch for five breaths. After five breaths, you can release or take it deeper by widening your feet and pressing your hips further back. Hold for an additional five breaths.

Chair Twist

When sitting all day, it is easy to start to slump or even lean to one side, causing your spine and torso to shift in all different directions. Overtime, these habits can start to cause tension and poor posture. To help regain some strength and length along the spine, twisting will help. This is similar to "cracking" you back or what you might experience at a chiropractor. Sit on the very edge of your seat, with your feet on the ground and your legs together. Sit as tall as you can, without leaning back or slouching forward. Keep your hips and legs steady as you twist from the waist up the spine, turning to the right. Bring your right hand behind you, either to the back edge of your seat, or resting your arm on a low backrest. Place your left hand across your right thigh, along the outer edge. See if you can turn all the way to the side, so your chest faces the right and your head turns to look behind you. Hold for five breaths and switch sides.

Figure 4 Hip Stretch

Hip tightness can mean a host of trouble, from back pain to leg stiffness, and even knee issues. Hips are located right at the center of the body, so they connect to many different muscle groups. When they get tight, from staying in one position to long, they can cause tension throughout the connecting tissues. Stretching the hips can be intense, but can also bring much needed relief. Sit on the edge of your chair with a tall spine. Bring your right ankle to your left thigh, just before the knee. Let the inner seam of your pants face up. Flex your right foot to help prevent any extra tension around the knee. Press your right palm into your right thigh, coaxing your knee down gently to open your hip. To take it further, lean forward slightly. Hold for 10 breaths and switch sides.

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Jessi Andricks isn't just passionate about healthy living, she's made healthy living her life. Through her training in Health Coaching, Yoga and Fitness, she is able to blend together the best of all worlds, creating innovative online wellness programs and Detox Yoga Workshops, as well as teaching daily yoga, barre and fusion fitness classes. Jessi uses her knowledge to help others live healthy, happy lives. Look for her upcoming book, Detox 101, and check out more at thehouseofhealthy.com.

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