5 stretches that will get you out of your seat - RED - Relevant. Essential. Denver.
MSU Denver senior Toby Scott performs the side reach which stretches abdominal obliques and latissimus dorsi (back and side muscles). Photo by Alyson McClaran

5 stretches that will get you out of your seat

Exercise-science student Toby Scott shares stretches that can counteract the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day.

September 28, 2017

By Kristen Lotze

“Sitting is the new smoking” – at least that’s what recent research would suggest. Many medical experts believe that sitting at a desk for prolonged periods has as much of a detrimental effect on your organs and overall health as smoking cigarettes. Who knew sitting could be so harmful?

The good news is, there are ways to prevent these damaging effects from wreaking more havoc – they’re effective and painless! Exercise-science major Toby Scott offers a list of five stretches that can be performed at your desk or in your office to help loosen muscles, reduce stress levels and generally improve health:

1. Knee hug

Areas stretched: glutes and hamstrings.

MSU Denver senior Toby Scott demonstrates the knee hug in the PE Building on Auraria Campus. Photo by Alyson McClaran

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, grab right knee and bring up to chest and “hug.” Hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat with left knee. This can be made easier by staying seated and performing the stretch.

2. Hamstring wall stretch

Areas stretched: hamstrings and glutes.

MSU Denver senior Toby Scott demonstrates the hamstring wall stretch; good for counteracting sitting for long periods. Photo by Alyson McClaran

Can be performed against a wall, or with help of a chair. Lift right leg and touch wall, or rest leg on seat of chair, until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat with left leg.

3. Side reach

Areas stretched: abdominal obliques and latissimus dorsi (back and side muscles).

MSU Denver senior Toby Scott performs the side reach which stretches abdominal obliques and latissimus dorsi (back and side muscles). Photo by Alyson McClaran

Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart and bend to the side at the hip, reaching your opposing arm up, until you feel a stretch along your side muscles. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.

4. Trunk rotation

Area stretched: lower back.

SU Denver senior Toby Scott shows an effective means to stretch the lower back by performing a trunk rotation. Photo by Alyson McClaran

Stand and twist your upper body only (leave lower body straight) to the left until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the right side. Stretch can also be “active” by rotating back and forth, in a smooth motion, five times on each side.

5. Wall pectoral stretch

Areas stretched: Shoulder/neck/chest.

MSU Denver senior Toby Scott stretches shoulder, neck and chest muscles with a wall pectoral stretch. Photo by Alyson McClaran

This stretch is good for counteracting the effects of sitting as well as typing/computer use. Start by standing parallel to a wall, far enough away that your right arm has to almost fully extend to touch the wall. Stabilize your hand on the wall, and rotate the rest of your body to the left until you feel the stretch in your chest, shoulder and neck muscles. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat the process on the left side.