Employee & Community Health

Stretch to take the strain out of sitting

12/6/2018 by Jill Henderzahs-Mason, DPT, OCS

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Sitting puts a strain on our bodies, leaving us stiff and sore and even sleepy. To wake up our brains and bodies, here are some simple techniques and stretches: 

  • Get up and move.  Every half hour or so, walk to get a drink of water, check the mailbox, touch base with a colleague, take a bathroom break or throw a load of clothes in the laundry. 
  • Neck stretches. Sit/stand tall. Bring you chin to your chest and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Then, rotate your head left and then right, holding 15 to 30 seconds on each side. Finally, tilt your head to the side, leaning your ear toward your shoulder. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds on each side. 
  • Standing stretches. While standing, put a hand on your desk or chair to stabilize yourself. Bend one leg, grab your ankle and pull it toward your buttock. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds; repeat on the other side. Or, stand with feet hip-width apart, left hand on hip, reaching with the right hand overhead and toward the left. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. 
  • Forearm stretches. Lift one of your arms and hold it comfortably in front of you, palm facing down, elbow straight. Bend your hand downward, and gently pull it toward you using the other hand. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Then, lift one of your arms and hold it comfortably in front of you, palm facing up, elbow straight. Bend your hand downward, and gently pull it toward you using your other hand. Again, hold for 15 to 30 seconds on each side. 
  • Seated stretches. While seated, prop one ankle on the opposite thigh and gently lean forward. Use your hands to grab the knee, and gently pull it toward your opposite shoulder. Rock your hips to increase the curve in your lower back. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Relax and return to the starting position, and repeat the stretch with your other leg. Another option is to roll your shoulders back, then roll them forward. Looking straight ahead, raise your shoulders toward your ears then push them down. 

Jill Henderzahs-Mason, DPT, OCS, is a wellness physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program in Rochester. She specializes in combining physical therapy with whole-body wellness, with a focus on optimizing fundamental movement patterns for the empowerment of efficient and safe movement during life, exercise and play.