Anyone who has a desk job has long been warned of the dangers of sitting all day. And now that many of us have fully transitioned into a work-from-home lifestyle, the temptation to sit is ever present. Raise your hand if you see your couch just staring lovingly at you right now.
As tempting as it can be to enjoy lounging, you’d be wise to avoid the urge and move a bit every now and then just as you would during a normal workday at the office. To make getting those movements in a little easier, we reached out to ACE-certified personal trainer Morgan Rees, who shared four moves so simple and fast, you can do them before your next video call and fight all that constant sitting.
The best part? You don’t need any equipment to complete these simple stretches, and you probably already know how to do them! But don’t be fooled, these four movements help the blood circulate through those cramped muscles and get the body moving after hours of sitting. To get started, simply don a breathable and movable top like the UA Sportstyle Stadium T-Shirt ($35) that functions as a work and workout top and get to stretching — just don’t get so zen you forget to dial into your next call.
Supine Twist Stretch: Works the Back and Hips
Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and your arms in a “T” position. Keep your shoulders on the ground while you gently move both of your knees to the left side. Take your left arm and use it to further press your knees into the ground to intensify the movement. Keep your right arm extended and turn your head to the right. The goal here is to keep the right shoulder on the ground as you stretch. You can also extend the left leg into a straight position to increase the intensity of the stretch, Rees explains. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on your right side.
Cat-Cow Stretch: Works the Back
Get on your hands and knees with your knees about hip-width apart. Begin the stretch by arching your back so you assume a classic “cat” position. “Imagine pulling your belly button toward your spine,” Rees explained. “Inhale while doing this part of the stretch. You should feel a stretch in your low back.” Exhale and allow your back to curve downward and raise your head toward the ceiling into the “cow” position. Rees instructed to continue doing this series to influence movement through the spine.
Child’s Pose: Works the Arms, Back, and Hips
Begin on your hands and knees. Spread your knees apart and bring your bottom to your heels. While doing this, allow your arms to reach overhead and touch the floor in front of you. Your head should be facing the floor, if not on the ground, Rees said. Continue to sit back into this position and relax for 30 seconds. If you have trouble getting your glutes to your heels, you can insert a towel in that space to modify the pose. Note: if you have had recent knee surgery or injury, avoid this position.
Side-Reach Stretch: Works the Lats and Obliques
While sitting in your work chair (or standing next to it with feet hip-width apart), take your right arm and reach overhead. Lean with your right arm diagonally to your left side, allowing the entire right side of the body to open up. “This stretch goes best with you exhaling while doing the movement,” she said. If you can’t get your arm directly next to your ear, it’s OK to make modifications. Rees said to avoid forcing the movement and simply reach across your body at the highest point that your arm is comfortable. Hold the stretch on one side for about 30 seconds before switching sides.
The duration of these stretches is totally up to you and depends a lot on how you feel during the motions, Rees explained. A good rule of thumb is to hold each stretch for 30 seconds and up to two minutes. Just remember, even stretches can get intense. “If you notice that your muscles are beginning to cramp or you lose circulation in part of your body, it is obvious that you need to let up on the stretch!” she said. And, of course, if you’re not used to a certain movement, start small and hold for 30 seconds. “As you become more comfortable with the stretch over time, you can practice truly relaxing different parts of your body,” Rees added. “This will enable you to hold the stretch longer.”