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Improve your muscles with seated stretches

Published in Weight Management Author: Alyssa Monson

Back pain and/or stiff joints from sitting too long? Unable to stand up and move your body? Try out these seated stretches to help strengthen and stretch your muscles.

Head and shoulders

These stretches will help relieve neck tension and improve posture.

Head rolls

  • Sit in a neutral position, lengthening your spine. Inhale.
  • Exhale and gently roll your head forward. Inhale.
  • Exhale and gently roll your head to the right side. Inhale.
  • Exhale and gently roll your head back. To avoid dropping your head all the way back, look for where the wall and ceiling meet. Inhale.
  • Repeat the sequence with your left side.

Posture pleaser

  • Sit in a neutral position. Lift both arms in front of you at shoulder height and shoulder width apart (arms should be parallel to the ground). Inhale.
  • Exhale and glide your shoulder blades towards one another, keeping as relaxed as possible. Hold this for 5 seconds continuing to breathe normally.
  • Return slowly to a neutral position.
  • Repeat five times.

Back

Stretching your back muscles can help prevent injuries.

Upper back stretch

  • Sit in a neutral position.
  • Clasp your right hand in your left hand. Inhale.
  • Exhale and gently pull your right hand across your chest toward your left shoulder. Try to keep your torso facing forward. Hold for 10 seconds, continuing to breathe. Repeat with your left hand.

Spiral

  • Sit in a neural position. Place our right hand on your left knee. Inhale.
  • Exhale and slowly twist to the left, gently pushing with your right hand. Continue the twist, looking over your left shoulder, until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 15 seconds. Continuing to breath.
  • Slowly return to a neutral position.
  • Repeat on other side.

Thighs

Stretching your thigh muscles can help to improve circulation and reduce back tension.

Thigh lift

  • Sit in a neutral position.
  • Place your hands behind and above your right knee. Inhale.
  • Exhale and gently pull your right knee up towards your chest. Hold for 15 seconds, continuing to breathe.
  • Lower your right leg, slowly back to the floor.
  • Repeat with the left leg.

Seated hamstring stretch

  • Sit in a neutral position.
  • Extend leg forward straightening your knee and placing your heel on the floor in front of you.
  • Stretch out your same-side hand toward your food. Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Repeat with the opposite side.

Wrists

If you spend a lot of time at a computer, this exercise can help strengthen your wrist muscles, which may help prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Desk lift

  • Sit in a neutral position.
  • Slide your hands under your desk with your palms facing upward. Do not actually try to lift the desk — just place pressure on the desk. Inhale.
  • Exhale and press your palms up against the desk. Hold for 5 seconds continuing to breathe.
  • Repeat exercise with palms facing the floor.

Ankles

Feet and ankle muscles are often engaged for most of the day and are often the least stretched muscles. Try these exercises to help strengthen and stretch them.

Ankle circles

  • Sit in a neutral position.
  • Extend your lower right leg slightly, do not straighten your knee.
  • Exhale and slowly circle your right foot outward.
  • Repeat 10 circles, continuing to breathe.
  • Lower your leg back to the floor. Repeat 10 times with your left foot.
  • Repeat 10 times with each foot circling inward.

Source: New Direction Weight Control System: Sit to Be Fit module