Seven stretches we should be doing if we sit down all day
Humans can do amazing things, but sometimes, we have to admit it: our lives are not perfectly designed for our bodies.
For starters, we sit too much and we stare at too many screens. All this bad positioning can take a toll on our bodies and their alignment. Muscles that are supposed to be lengthened and shortened throughout the day stay short, making them tight and potentially limiting movement.
A full-body stretching routine can help you unfold and improve body alignment. But what exactly is stretching?
It helps to understand how your body works. All muscles shorten and lengthen when they are being used. Stretching a muscle temporarily relaxes it and allows it to lengthen. If you were to look at a muscle under a microscope, you’d see striated fibers called sarcomeres—the basic building blocks of muscles. Each sarcomere is composed of two types of filaments—or proteins—actin (which is thin) and myosin (which is thick).
During a muscle contraction, these filaments slide against each other, while little cross bridges between the filaments enable the muscle to contract and lengthen. Of course, all this takes energy and happens without you even realising it—but that’s the general process. It’s a microscopic dance between proteins every time you move.
Common logic dictates that a good stretching routine paired with an appropriate warmup and cooldown before and after activity and can be an effective way to prevent injuries. According to one 2015 study, a static stretching routine can reduce the incidence of injury. However, the evidence is not totally conclusive, and another scientific study found that static stretching may not be effective in preventing all injuries, but it might be minimally effective at reducing musculotendinous injuries such as tendinopathies (more commonly known as tendinitis).
While the jury is still out there about the actual effectiveness of stretching, one thing is for sure: It feels good. Stretching first thing in the morning or after a long day in a slouched position can at least temporarily reduce aches and pains related to bad posture and might be exactly what your body needs to relax.