If you're sitting most of the day, you know how tight and fatigued your body can become. Resting slouched in front of a computer or stuck behind the steering wheel for hours on end is not an ideal posture for the human body. Our bodies are meant to move.
In addition to consistent physical activity, the following five stretches will help you feel more energized while helping to alleviate muscle tightness and stress.
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Take five minutes a few times throughout the day and recharge with this stretching routine. These stretches are intended to work with your natural range of motion, so you should feel a stretch when you perform them, but never push it to the point of discomfort or pain.
Standing shoulder stretch: Stand upright with your arms extended out in front of you with your palms down. Reach your fingertips as far forward as you can and allow your shoulders and upper back to round a bit. Swing your arms out to your sides in a controlled manner while you squeeze your shoulder blades together. You should feel a slight stretch across the fronts of your shoulders and tension between your shoulder blades. Continue to controllably swing your arms front to back for 30 seconds as you take deep breathes.
Hip flexor/abdominal stretch: From a standing position, take a large step forward with your right leg. Allow both knees to bend slightly but keep 60 percent of your weight on the front leg. Slowly reach your left arm up toward the ceiling while keeping your right knee bent. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Neck extensor/flexor stretch: Rotate your head 45 degrees to the side. Slowly drop your chin toward your chest until you feel a comfortable stretch in the back of your neck. Hold for 30 seconds and then slowly tilt your chin upward and look toward the ceiling while still keeping your head rotated 45 degrees. Hold for another 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Standing side bend stretch: Place feet hip width apart while standing with arms extended overhead. Reach your fingertips upward and sideways to your left while pushing your hips sideways to the right. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Kicking hamstring stretch: Stand upright with both legs straight. Kick your right leg forward and upward in a controlled manner while keeping your left foot tight to the floor as an anchor. Your right leg should act as a pendulum swinging front to back. Don't let your kick get too high or out of control, but aim for a comfortable stretch in the back of the leg every time the leg swings forward. Continue for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other leg.
So if you find yourself in a sedentary workplace, take five minutes a few times every day to give your body a break from the stress associated with physical inactivity. Give it a try and you'll feel the difference immediately.
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• Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.