Seated Stretches

“Medicine has said that sitting is the new smoking,” remarks Roper St. Francis Healthcare affiliated physical therapist Lauren Moore. “We’re not meant to be sedentary; we’re meant to move around.” But according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the average U.S. adult spends six and a half hours on their tuchus every day. When we sit for long periods, our joints become stiff and our muscles lose flexibility, among a host of other health problems. When getting up and moving isn’t an option, seated stretches offer a convenient platform to keep the body limber without any equipment beyond the chair in which you sit.

Perfect Form: Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and repeat three times on both sides of the body (unless otherwise noted). *The first two stretches should not be performed by those who have had a total hip replacement.

Seated piriformis stretch*: Cross one leg over the other, with the ankle atop the knee of the leg that’s resting on the floor. From this position, grab onto the knee of the crossed leg and pull up towards the opposite shoulder. The stretch should be felt in the buttock of the lifted leg.
Seated figure-four stretch*: From the same cross-legged position as the previous stretch, sit up tall with the back in a neutral position, resulting in a slight backside stretch. For a deeper stretch in the glute, lean forward. To stretch the piriformis muscle and the hip rotators even further, use your hand to apply slight downward pressure to the knee of the crossed leg.
Seated hamstring stretch: Sitting at the front edge of the chair, slightly bend one leg and kick the other leg out straight with the heel resting on the floor. With a neutral back, lean forward toward the floor and feel the stretch along the back of the straightened leg. For an extra stretch, flex the toes slightly towards the nose.
Seated forward bend: While positioned at the front edge of the chair, sit up tall with the feet flat on the floor and slightly apart. Reach for the floor between the feet with the fingertips. This lower back stretch should be held for 10 seconds and repeated 10 times.

Get Moving: “I tell patients to perform these stretches at least once daily, though if someone feels that two or three times a day is beneficial, they can certainly be done more often,” says Moore. Try incorporating these positions into your day during phone calls or quick work breaks or when traveling in a car or on an airplane.