12 PT-Approved Stretches You Can Do After Too Much Sitting

If you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, try these stretches recommended by physical therapists to keep muscles loose and reduce pain.

women-stretching-while-sitting

You’ve probably heard that too much sitting isn’t good for you. Research shows it can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and pain. Sometimes, however, you can’t avoid long hours of inactivity, especially if you have a desk job, long commute, travel often, or are recovering from an injury or other medical condition. 

“Our bodies are meant to move,” says Samantha Stewart, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Hinge Health. “When we’re in one position, standing or sitting down, for a long time, our bodies tighten up. Joints and muscles get stiff, especially in the back and hips, leading to achiness and discomfort.” Too much sitting can worsen musculoskeletal problems and chronic pain.

But there’s good news: You can easily counteract the adverse effects of being sedentary. “Just by standing up from sitting, you're stretching some of your muscles,” says Dr. Stewart. “Standing exercises are great when you've been sitting too long, because they open up your whole body.” 

Read on to discover why it’s important to stretch after sitting too much, plus stretches for the entire body, recommended by our Hinge Health physical therapists.

Our Hinge Health Experts

Samantha Stewart, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Dr. Stewart is a Hinge Health physical therapist with over 8 years of experience. She is certified in myofascial trigger point therapy.
Jonathan Lee, MD, MBA
Orthopedic Surgeon and Medical Reviewer
Dr. Lee is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and an Associate Medical Director at Hinge Health.
Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

The Best Exercises to Do After Sitting for Too Long

These exercises are designed to be done after a long bout of sitting to help you recover from being inactive. You can also do some of the sitting stretches while you’re still in your seat to further minimize the effects of being sedentary. As you do each stretch, breathe normally. Don’t hold your breath. Stretch only to the point of mild discomfort or tension. You should never stretch to the point of pain.

Stretching Your Head and Shoulders

The following stretches target the muscles in your head, neck, and shoulders. When these muscles are tight, headaches and neck and upper back pain are more common. Keeping these muscles flexible also helps improve your posture, which can prevent aches and pain. You can do these stretches while seated, but if you can stand up, your entire body will benefit from the change in position.

1. Head Tilts

1. Head Tilts

This exercise stretches the muscles on the sides of the neck that extend from the head down to the shoulders.

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing comfortably.

  • Tilt your head to the side by moving your ear towards your shoulder.   

  • Relax your head back to the starting position.

  • Now, tilt your head in the opposite direction.

  • Relax your head back to the starting position. 

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your neck muscles.

2. Head Turns

2. Head Turns

This stretch increases your neck’s range of motion, making it easier to turn your head and look over your shoulder, for example, when backing up your car. 

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing comfortably.

  • Rotate your head as if you are looking over your shoulder.

  • Hold this stretch. 

  • Come back to center then rotate your head the opposite direction.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in the muscles on the side of your neck.

3. Cross Arm Stretch

3. Cross Arm Stretch

This move stretches the muscles in the back of your shoulders. You’ll feel it release tension across your upper back. 

How to Do It:

  • Start by folding your arms across your stomach with one hand holding your opposite elbow from the bottom.

  • Now push that elbow with your hand up and across your body towards your opposite shoulder. 

  • Focus on relaxing your stretching arm as you hold this position.

  • Relax your arms back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. 

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your shoulder, arm, and upper back.

Stretching Your Arms

The following stretches target muscles from your shoulders down to your fingertips. Keeping these muscles flexible gives you greater range of motion, making everyday tasks easier. You can do some of them while seated, but remember, you’ll stretch out your entire body if you do them standing.

4. Hand Behind Back Stretch

4. Hand Behind Back Stretch

This stretch loosens up your arms and shoulders in multiple directions. When these areas are loose, you’ll be able to reach behind your head and back more easily when showering and getting dressed.

How to Do It:

  • Start with one hand near your low back and your other hand holding one end of a towel behind your head. 

  • Grasp the other end of the towel at your low back so that the towel stretches between your hands. 

  • Move your hand at your head up towards the ceiling. Your other hand will be pulled up along your spine to provide a stretch. 

  • Focus on keeping your lower arm relaxed as you hold this stretch. 

  • Switch the placement of your hands and repeat.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your shoulder and arm muscles.

5. Doorway Stretch

5. Doorway Stretch

You’ll feel this stretch down your arms, allowing you to reach farther behind you. It also opens up the front of your chest to help reverse the forward rounding of your head and shoulders that happens when you sit for long periods.

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing in a doorway with your elbows bent and each forearm resting on one side of the door frame. Your elbows should be at about chest height.

  • Step one foot through the doorway to move your hips and chest forward while your forearms stay in place.

  • Focus on creating length through your chest and arms.

  • Move your hips and chest back to relax out of the stretch.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders, chest, and arms.

Tap into pain relief. Anytime, anywhere with our app.

Get exercises from a licensed physical therapist and more to relieve your pain. All right from your phone. At $0 cost to you.
Start your app tour

6. Wrist Extensor Stretch

6. Wrist Extensor Stretch

This is a must-do move when you’re working with your hands for a long time whether it’s typing, texting, doing crafts, or playing an instrument. Keeping these muscles flexible helps prevent wrist, hand, and elbow problems.

How to Do It:

  • Start by raising your arm in front of you with your elbow straight and the palm of your hand facing the floor. 

  • Use your other hand to gently push on the back of your raised hand until your fingers point down towards the floor. Allow your fingers to be relaxed and mostly straight as you hold this stretch.

  • Relax your pressure and return to the starting position.  

  • Repeat the stretch on the other hand.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your wrist, hand, and forearm.

Stretching Your Trunk

The following stretches target the trunk in your upper back, mid back, low back, chest, and abdomen in the front. “When people stretch, they often focus on their extremities,” says Dr. Stewart. “But the trunk is the center of everything we do with our bodies. All movement starts at the trunk.”

7. Standing Rotation

7. Standing Rotation

This stretch wakes up the muscles that wrap around your torso and enable you to twist. Keeping these muscles flexible makes tasks like emptying the dishwasher easier. If you can’t stand up, you can do this move while seated.

How to Do It:

  • Stand straight with your arms crossed over your chest.

  • Twist from your waist to rotate your chest toward one side. Keep your feet still as you twist.

  • Return to center and repeat on the other side.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your back, sides, and core.

8. Standing Side Bend

8. Standing Side Bend

This move stretches the muscles along the sides of your torso from your shoulders to your hips. Lengthening these muscles enables you to do tasks like reaching overhead to put away dishes without straining. 

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing with your feet a comfortable distance apart, and your hands at your sides. 

  • Slide one hand down your side and towards your knee so that your shoulder leans to the side and down towards the floor. Your other hand will naturally slide up your leg towards the top of your hip. 

  • Focus on deep breaths to relax into this position as you hold. 

  • Return to the starting position.

  • Repeat on your other side by sliding your opposite hand down towards your knee.

  • Hold and then return to the starting position. 

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your lower back, hips, and the sides of your core. 

9. Standing Back Extensions

9. Standing Back Extensions

This stretch counteracts all the hunching you do when reading a book, working on a computer, cooking, scrolling on your phone, or doing chores like washing dishes or vacuuming. It opens up the chest, improves posture, and can help reduce upper back and neck pain.

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing with your feet a comfortable distance apart, and with your hands on the back of your hips. 

  • Push your hips forward and allow your shoulders to dip downward towards the floor.

  • Arch your back and look up towards the ceiling. Focus on relaxing into this position as you hold.

  • Return to the starting position. 

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your core and the front of your hip muscles, and you might feel some tension in your back. 

Stretching Your Legs

The following stretches target the muscles in your hips, glutes, thighs, and lower legs. Hip and glute muscles are particularly vulnerable to stiffness and achiness when sitting for too many hours.

10. Hip Flexor Stretch

10. Hip Flexor Stretch

Your hip flexor at the top of your thigh is essential for everyday activities like walking and climbing stairs, but it quickly gets tight when you sit too much. Along with making these activities harder, tight hip flexors can also contribute to back pain.

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing comfortably with your feet hips width apart.

  • Take a big step forward with one foot.

  • Bend through your front knee, while you push your other hip forward. 

  • Keep your chest upright as you hold this position. 

  • Push through the front foot to step back, and return to standing. Repeat on the other side.

  • As you do each rep, you should feel a stretch in the front of your hip.

11. Standing Calf Stretch

11. Standing Calf Stretch

Flexible calves improve your walking gait. You’ll push off with more power when walking or running and be less likely to trip if your calf muscles are flexible. This move also loosens up the hamstring muscles in the back of your thighs. 

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing facing a wall with the palms of your hands flat on the wall. 

  • Take a step back with one leg.

  • Pressing your back heel down towards the floor, move your hips and front knee towards the wall. Your back leg should remain mostly straight during the stretch. 

  • Make sure that your feet are facing straight forward as you hold this stretch.

  • Return to the starting position and repeat on the other leg.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your calf, foot, and ankle muscles.

12. Seated Glute Set

12. Seated Glute Set

Even though you’re sitting for this stretch, it loosens up the rotational muscles around the buttocks and hips that are essential for movement.

How to Do It:

  • Start by sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. 

  • Squeeze your butt muscles together. 

  • You may feel your hips rise or move slightly as you tighten your muscles. 

  • Focus on squeezing as hard as you can, while you hold this position..

  • Relax your muscles to return to the starting position.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your butt and hip muscles working.

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

The Benefits of Stretching Your Body

“Stretching is movement,” says Dr. Stewart. “It elongates the muscle fibers that shorten when you’re not moving.” In fact, one study found that just 10 minutes of stretching a day counteracted the effects of inactivity by improving flexibility. Stretching is a gentle way to transition from being sedentary and offers many benefits, including:

Greater range of motion. When your joints are locked in the same position for hours, the muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding them can start to stiffen and shorten. Over time, this can decrease range of motion, impairing everyday activities like walking and climbing stairs. Stretching has the opposite effect — contracting your muscles and moving your joints brings fluid and nutrients to all areas of your body to combat fatigue and stiffness.

Increased circulation. Movement and stretching increases blood flow, delivering more oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. 

More energy. It may sound counterintuitive, but sitting saps your energy. When you stand up and stretch, your body wakes up. The increased blood flow fuels your body and brain, helping you feel more alert and productive. 

Better balance. Stretching helps keep your muscle fibers working together and improves your awareness of your body in space — both of which help you to feel stable, maintain or regain your balance when needed, and reduce your risk of falling as you move throughout your day. 

Less pain and discomfort. Research shows stretching can increase people’s tolerance for pain. “Increasing your movement through stretching helps to change the way your body interprets pain signals,” says Dr. Stewart. “Stretching teaches the body that moving is safe, good, and healthy.” 

PT Tip: Schedule Breaks

At Hinge Health, our physical therapists are big fans of movement snacks. Just as snacks are small bites between bigger meals, movement snacks are short bouts of activity — like the exercises above — that you can squeeze into a busy day when you’re sitting too much or can’t do a longer workout.

You might find it helpful to schedule movement snacks. Dr. Stewart recommends setting a timer every half hour and moving for at least a minute or two. If you can’t get up, you can do seated exercises. You can even do some moves while in a meeting without anyone noticing.

You can also use cues in your daily routine. “Stretch during commercial breaks while watching TV, for example,” says Dr. Stewart. “When you need water, go across the office to the farthest water station. When transitioning from one meeting to the next, stretch or stand up and sit down five times. You don't need to do a lot. You just have to remember to give yourself an outlet to stretch your body.”

How Hinge Health Can Help You

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you.

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

Looking for pain relief? Check if your employer or health plan covers our program

Hinge Health is available to over 1,600 companies and benefit plans!

References

  1. The dangers of sitting. (2019, May 23). Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/the-dangers-of-sitting 

  2. Warneke, K., Konrad, A., Keiner, M., Zech, A., Nakamura, M., Hillebrecht, M., & Behm, D. G. (2022). Using Daily Stretching to Counteract Performance Decreases as a Result of Reduced Physical Activity—A Controlled Trial. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(23), 15571. doi:10.3390/ijerph192315571

  3. Larouche, M.-C., Samuel Camiré Bernier, Racine, R., Collin, O., Mikaël Desmons, Mailloux, C., & Massé-Alarie, H. (2020b). Stretch-induced hypoalgesia: a pilot study. Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 20(4). doi:10.1515/sjpain-2020-0018

women-stretching-while-sitting

12 PT-Approved Stretches You Can Do After Too Much Sitting

If you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, try these stretches recommended by physical therapists to keep muscles loose and reduce pain.

Published Date: Jan 19, 2024
women-stretching-while-sitting

You’ve probably heard that too much sitting isn’t good for you. Research shows it can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and pain. Sometimes, however, you can’t avoid long hours of inactivity, especially if you have a desk job, long commute, travel often, or are recovering from an injury or other medical condition. 

“Our bodies are meant to move,” says Samantha Stewart, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Hinge Health. “When we’re in one position, standing or sitting down, for a long time, our bodies tighten up. Joints and muscles get stiff, especially in the back and hips, leading to achiness and discomfort.” Too much sitting can worsen musculoskeletal problems and chronic pain.

But there’s good news: You can easily counteract the adverse effects of being sedentary. “Just by standing up from sitting, you're stretching some of your muscles,” says Dr. Stewart. “Standing exercises are great when you've been sitting too long, because they open up your whole body.” 

Read on to discover why it’s important to stretch after sitting too much, plus stretches for the entire body, recommended by our Hinge Health physical therapists.

Our Hinge Health Experts

Samantha Stewart, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Dr. Stewart is a Hinge Health physical therapist with over 8 years of experience. She is certified in myofascial trigger point therapy.
Jonathan Lee, MD, MBA
Orthopedic Surgeon and Medical Reviewer
Dr. Lee is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and an Associate Medical Director at Hinge Health.
Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

The Best Exercises to Do After Sitting for Too Long

These exercises are designed to be done after a long bout of sitting to help you recover from being inactive. You can also do some of the sitting stretches while you’re still in your seat to further minimize the effects of being sedentary. As you do each stretch, breathe normally. Don’t hold your breath. Stretch only to the point of mild discomfort or tension. You should never stretch to the point of pain.

Stretching Your Head and Shoulders

The following stretches target the muscles in your head, neck, and shoulders. When these muscles are tight, headaches and neck and upper back pain are more common. Keeping these muscles flexible also helps improve your posture, which can prevent aches and pain. You can do these stretches while seated, but if you can stand up, your entire body will benefit from the change in position.

1. Head Tilts

1. Head Tilts

This exercise stretches the muscles on the sides of the neck that extend from the head down to the shoulders.

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing comfortably.

  • Tilt your head to the side by moving your ear towards your shoulder.   

  • Relax your head back to the starting position.

  • Now, tilt your head in the opposite direction.

  • Relax your head back to the starting position. 

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your neck muscles.

2. Head Turns

2. Head Turns

This stretch increases your neck’s range of motion, making it easier to turn your head and look over your shoulder, for example, when backing up your car. 

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing comfortably.

  • Rotate your head as if you are looking over your shoulder.

  • Hold this stretch. 

  • Come back to center then rotate your head the opposite direction.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in the muscles on the side of your neck.

3. Cross Arm Stretch

3. Cross Arm Stretch

This move stretches the muscles in the back of your shoulders. You’ll feel it release tension across your upper back. 

How to Do It:

  • Start by folding your arms across your stomach with one hand holding your opposite elbow from the bottom.

  • Now push that elbow with your hand up and across your body towards your opposite shoulder. 

  • Focus on relaxing your stretching arm as you hold this position.

  • Relax your arms back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. 

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your shoulder, arm, and upper back.

Stretching Your Arms

The following stretches target muscles from your shoulders down to your fingertips. Keeping these muscles flexible gives you greater range of motion, making everyday tasks easier. You can do some of them while seated, but remember, you’ll stretch out your entire body if you do them standing.

4. Hand Behind Back Stretch

4. Hand Behind Back Stretch

This stretch loosens up your arms and shoulders in multiple directions. When these areas are loose, you’ll be able to reach behind your head and back more easily when showering and getting dressed.

How to Do It:

  • Start with one hand near your low back and your other hand holding one end of a towel behind your head. 

  • Grasp the other end of the towel at your low back so that the towel stretches between your hands. 

  • Move your hand at your head up towards the ceiling. Your other hand will be pulled up along your spine to provide a stretch. 

  • Focus on keeping your lower arm relaxed as you hold this stretch. 

  • Switch the placement of your hands and repeat.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your shoulder and arm muscles.

5. Doorway Stretch

5. Doorway Stretch

You’ll feel this stretch down your arms, allowing you to reach farther behind you. It also opens up the front of your chest to help reverse the forward rounding of your head and shoulders that happens when you sit for long periods.

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing in a doorway with your elbows bent and each forearm resting on one side of the door frame. Your elbows should be at about chest height.

  • Step one foot through the doorway to move your hips and chest forward while your forearms stay in place.

  • Focus on creating length through your chest and arms.

  • Move your hips and chest back to relax out of the stretch.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders, chest, and arms.

Tap into pain relief. Anytime, anywhere with our app.

Get exercises from a licensed physical therapist and more to relieve your pain. All right from your phone. At $0 cost to you.
Start your app tour

6. Wrist Extensor Stretch

6. Wrist Extensor Stretch

This is a must-do move when you’re working with your hands for a long time whether it’s typing, texting, doing crafts, or playing an instrument. Keeping these muscles flexible helps prevent wrist, hand, and elbow problems.

How to Do It:

  • Start by raising your arm in front of you with your elbow straight and the palm of your hand facing the floor. 

  • Use your other hand to gently push on the back of your raised hand until your fingers point down towards the floor. Allow your fingers to be relaxed and mostly straight as you hold this stretch.

  • Relax your pressure and return to the starting position.  

  • Repeat the stretch on the other hand.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your wrist, hand, and forearm.

Stretching Your Trunk

The following stretches target the trunk in your upper back, mid back, low back, chest, and abdomen in the front. “When people stretch, they often focus on their extremities,” says Dr. Stewart. “But the trunk is the center of everything we do with our bodies. All movement starts at the trunk.”

7. Standing Rotation

7. Standing Rotation

This stretch wakes up the muscles that wrap around your torso and enable you to twist. Keeping these muscles flexible makes tasks like emptying the dishwasher easier. If you can’t stand up, you can do this move while seated.

How to Do It:

  • Stand straight with your arms crossed over your chest.

  • Twist from your waist to rotate your chest toward one side. Keep your feet still as you twist.

  • Return to center and repeat on the other side.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your back, sides, and core.

8. Standing Side Bend

8. Standing Side Bend

This move stretches the muscles along the sides of your torso from your shoulders to your hips. Lengthening these muscles enables you to do tasks like reaching overhead to put away dishes without straining. 

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing with your feet a comfortable distance apart, and your hands at your sides. 

  • Slide one hand down your side and towards your knee so that your shoulder leans to the side and down towards the floor. Your other hand will naturally slide up your leg towards the top of your hip. 

  • Focus on deep breaths to relax into this position as you hold. 

  • Return to the starting position.

  • Repeat on your other side by sliding your opposite hand down towards your knee.

  • Hold and then return to the starting position. 

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your lower back, hips, and the sides of your core. 

9. Standing Back Extensions

9. Standing Back Extensions

This stretch counteracts all the hunching you do when reading a book, working on a computer, cooking, scrolling on your phone, or doing chores like washing dishes or vacuuming. It opens up the chest, improves posture, and can help reduce upper back and neck pain.

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing with your feet a comfortable distance apart, and with your hands on the back of your hips. 

  • Push your hips forward and allow your shoulders to dip downward towards the floor.

  • Arch your back and look up towards the ceiling. Focus on relaxing into this position as you hold.

  • Return to the starting position. 

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your core and the front of your hip muscles, and you might feel some tension in your back. 

Stretching Your Legs

The following stretches target the muscles in your hips, glutes, thighs, and lower legs. Hip and glute muscles are particularly vulnerable to stiffness and achiness when sitting for too many hours.

10. Hip Flexor Stretch

10. Hip Flexor Stretch

Your hip flexor at the top of your thigh is essential for everyday activities like walking and climbing stairs, but it quickly gets tight when you sit too much. Along with making these activities harder, tight hip flexors can also contribute to back pain.

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing comfortably with your feet hips width apart.

  • Take a big step forward with one foot.

  • Bend through your front knee, while you push your other hip forward. 

  • Keep your chest upright as you hold this position. 

  • Push through the front foot to step back, and return to standing. Repeat on the other side.

  • As you do each rep, you should feel a stretch in the front of your hip.

11. Standing Calf Stretch

11. Standing Calf Stretch

Flexible calves improve your walking gait. You’ll push off with more power when walking or running and be less likely to trip if your calf muscles are flexible. This move also loosens up the hamstring muscles in the back of your thighs. 

How to Do It:

  • Start by standing facing a wall with the palms of your hands flat on the wall. 

  • Take a step back with one leg.

  • Pressing your back heel down towards the floor, move your hips and front knee towards the wall. Your back leg should remain mostly straight during the stretch. 

  • Make sure that your feet are facing straight forward as you hold this stretch.

  • Return to the starting position and repeat on the other leg.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel a stretch in your calf, foot, and ankle muscles.

12. Seated Glute Set

12. Seated Glute Set

Even though you’re sitting for this stretch, it loosens up the rotational muscles around the buttocks and hips that are essential for movement.

How to Do It:

  • Start by sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. 

  • Squeeze your butt muscles together. 

  • You may feel your hips rise or move slightly as you tighten your muscles. 

  • Focus on squeezing as hard as you can, while you hold this position..

  • Relax your muscles to return to the starting position.

  • As you do each rep, you might feel your butt and hip muscles working.

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

The Benefits of Stretching Your Body

“Stretching is movement,” says Dr. Stewart. “It elongates the muscle fibers that shorten when you’re not moving.” In fact, one study found that just 10 minutes of stretching a day counteracted the effects of inactivity by improving flexibility. Stretching is a gentle way to transition from being sedentary and offers many benefits, including:

Greater range of motion. When your joints are locked in the same position for hours, the muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding them can start to stiffen and shorten. Over time, this can decrease range of motion, impairing everyday activities like walking and climbing stairs. Stretching has the opposite effect — contracting your muscles and moving your joints brings fluid and nutrients to all areas of your body to combat fatigue and stiffness.

Increased circulation. Movement and stretching increases blood flow, delivering more oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. 

More energy. It may sound counterintuitive, but sitting saps your energy. When you stand up and stretch, your body wakes up. The increased blood flow fuels your body and brain, helping you feel more alert and productive. 

Better balance. Stretching helps keep your muscle fibers working together and improves your awareness of your body in space — both of which help you to feel stable, maintain or regain your balance when needed, and reduce your risk of falling as you move throughout your day. 

Less pain and discomfort. Research shows stretching can increase people’s tolerance for pain. “Increasing your movement through stretching helps to change the way your body interprets pain signals,” says Dr. Stewart. “Stretching teaches the body that moving is safe, good, and healthy.” 

PT Tip: Schedule Breaks

At Hinge Health, our physical therapists are big fans of movement snacks. Just as snacks are small bites between bigger meals, movement snacks are short bouts of activity — like the exercises above — that you can squeeze into a busy day when you’re sitting too much or can’t do a longer workout.

You might find it helpful to schedule movement snacks. Dr. Stewart recommends setting a timer every half hour and moving for at least a minute or two. If you can’t get up, you can do seated exercises. You can even do some moves while in a meeting without anyone noticing.

You can also use cues in your daily routine. “Stretch during commercial breaks while watching TV, for example,” says Dr. Stewart. “When you need water, go across the office to the farthest water station. When transitioning from one meeting to the next, stretch or stand up and sit down five times. You don't need to do a lot. You just have to remember to give yourself an outlet to stretch your body.”

How Hinge Health Can Help You

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you.

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

Looking for pain relief? Check if your employer or health plan covers our program

Hinge Health is available to over 1,600 companies and benefit plans!

References

  1. The dangers of sitting. (2019, May 23). Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/the-dangers-of-sitting 

  2. Warneke, K., Konrad, A., Keiner, M., Zech, A., Nakamura, M., Hillebrecht, M., & Behm, D. G. (2022). Using Daily Stretching to Counteract Performance Decreases as a Result of Reduced Physical Activity—A Controlled Trial. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(23), 15571. doi:10.3390/ijerph192315571

  3. Larouche, M.-C., Samuel Camiré Bernier, Racine, R., Collin, O., Mikaël Desmons, Mailloux, C., & Massé-Alarie, H. (2020b). Stretch-induced hypoalgesia: a pilot study. Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 20(4). doi:10.1515/sjpain-2020-0018