When you sit, your body slumps, your metabolism slows, and you…spread. But if you’re in a job where you must sit—or you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a standing desk—you’ll be happy to learn that there are ways to undo the damage, plus boost your calorie burn.
What to do: Hold each of these static stretches for 30 seconds, and try to do the series in this order, twice a day.
1. Supported Backbend
Why: Bending backward helps improve posture and supports the muscles that stabilize your spine.
How: Stand facing away from a wall, your heels about 1 inch away from the baseboard. With your arms over your head, elbows bent backward so that your palms are facing the wall, slowly lean back and catch your body weight with your hands. Walk your hands down the wall until you begin to feel a stretch.
2. Lunge with Rotation
Why: Build strength in your legs and shoulders while stretching your hips. The twists will also help maintain healthy spinal movement
How: From a standing position, take a big step forward with your right foot into a lunge, taking care that your right knee does not extend past your toes. Place your hands on either side of your right foot. Now lift your right arm toward the ceiling and turn your gaze upward at the same time. As you exhale, try to go a little deeper into the rotation. Switch sides and repeat.
3. Shoulder Opener
Why: Sitting tends to pull our shoulders inward and collapse our chest. This move opens the shoulders and chest.
How: Stand up straight and tall, holding a towel or belt in each hand behind your back. Raise your arms behind you as high as you can without feeling discomfort. Pull your shoulders back and together as you lift the towel.
4. Low Cobra with Feet Elevated
Why: Stretch your hip flexors (they get really tight from being bent in a seated position for too long), strengthen the glutes, open the chest and shoulders, and strengthen the lower back.
How: Lie facedown with your ankles resting on a foam roller or set of yoga blocks. Press your forearms into the floor and pull your shoulders back as you raise your head up and back.
5. Star Reach
Why: This move lengthens the body by stretching the shoulders, chest, mid-back, hips, and ankles, and it’s the perfect antidote for chair-tightened joints and muscles.
How: Stand with your legs slightly wider than hip width. Reach your arms high in the sky with palms facing forward. Spread your fingers. Rise high on your tippy-toes. You’ll experience an exhilarating stretch from the extension of the ankles, knees, hips, chest, and shoulders.
6. Number 4 Sit
Why: The piriformis, a little muscle in your rear end, atrophies and tightens with prolonged sitting. With a simple stretch you can keep your piriformis active and flexible.
How: While seated, cross your right ankle over your left thigh. Use your right hand to apply a tiny bit of pressure to the inside of your right knee, and then slightly lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your right piriformis (on the side of your glute). Hold the stretch there as you inhale. When you exhale, attempt to apply a tad more pressure and lean a half an inch farther forward into the stretch. Continue with each breath. Switch sides and repeat.