If you have a desk job, you probably feel the effects of sitting for long periods of time. Your back starts to hurt, you feel stiffer, your shoulders and neck ache… it’s a real problem. While standing and moving around throughout the day can help keep your body feeling good, stretching can also make a huge difference.

When you don’t stretch, you’re allowing your muscles to shorten and tighten—something that can set you up for joint pain, muscle damage, and strains in the future, says Harvard Medical School. Stretching regularly, on the other hand, keeps those muscles—and your body!—in a good place for years to come.

While many people think stretching is only necessary before and after workouts, it can be a game-changer for all-day sitters, too. Even spending a minute doing forward folds, for instance, can improve your wellbeing in a big way.  “If you spend most of your day sitting or working from home on a computer, it will really help your lower back—not only lengthening it out, but also relieving any tension you may feel,” said Alexandria Ponce, an online trainer for Fitspot, in a recent virtual fitness class.

From now on, commit to spending at least 10 minutes a day loosening up your body from head to toe, starting with Ponce’s go-to tension-relieving stretches.

These Are the 12 Best Stretches for Sitting All Day

Arm Circles and Swings

  1. Start loosening up your body by doing backwards arm circles, making the motion as big as possible.
  2. Repeat in the opposite direction, circling your arms forward.
  3. Next, starting with your arms straight out in front of you, swing them out to each side, allowing them to extend behind your body.
  4. Swing them back to your starting position, crossing them in front of you between each stretch.

Standing Twists

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms out to your sides.
  2. Twist the top half of your body back and forth from left to right.

Forward Fold

  1. With your feet together, raise your arms overhead. 
  2. Lock your fingers and turn your palms to the ceiling, then hinge at your hips as you fold forward, touching the floor.
  3. Slowly return to your starting position and repeat.

Side Stretch

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Lock your fingers and turn your palms to the ceiling, then bend to your right side.
  3. Bring your body back to center, breathe, and repeat on the left side.
  4. Return to center and repeat.

Weighted Forward Fold

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Fold your arms in front of you, then hinge at your hips and fold forward. 
  3. Hold for eight deep breaths, allowing your body to fully relax.
  4. Slowly return to your starting position, then repeat with your feet together. If you’re having trouble balancing, place your hands on the floor.

Cross-Leg Forward Fold

  1. Stand with your feet together.
  2. Cross your right leg over your left and slowly fold forward.
  3. Hold the stretch with your hands on the floor, return to your starting position, then repeat on the opposite side.

Squat Stretch

  1. Plant your feet in a wide stance. 
  2. Squat down to the floor, connecting your knees and your elbows. 
  3. Gently push your hips out with your elbows. 
  4. Return to your starting position and repeat, gently rocking from side to side.

Tricep Stretch

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. 
  2. Cross your right arm across your chest with your left hand on your elbow. 
  3. Hold the stretch, then repeat on the opposite side.
  4. Next, take your right arm behind your head, holding your elbow with your left hand.
  5. Hold the stretch, then repeat on the opposite side.

Wrist Rolls 

  1. Lock your fingers and roll your wrists in one direction, then switch to the other direction.
  2. Next, create big waves with your wrists in one direction, then switch to the other direction.

Ankle Rolls

  1. Standing firm on one leg, roll your opposite ankle in circles in an inward motion, then roll your ankle in an outward motion.
  2. Repeat on the opposite foot.

Wall Calf Stretch

  1. Position your hands on a wall and position one foot forward and the other behind you with a straight leg. 
  2. Leaning against the wall, feel the stretch in your back leg. Hold, then repeat on the opposite side.

Glute Stretch

  1. Sit on a mat or carpet. Cross your right leg over your left and hug your knee in toward your chest. 
  2. Place your right foot on the floor, connect your left elbow to your right knee, and gently push into your leg as you slightly rotate your upper body to your right side. 
  3. Hold, then repeat on the opposite side.
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