Stretching is a simple and effective way to add physical activity to your day. You can do it anywhere.
In the video below, learn simple and gentle stretches that you can do during the day to relieve stress and re-energize yourself. The video will give you the tools to keep yourself energized all day.
Watch the video below or read the transcript that follows. View more physical activity videos on our YouTube page. Or, read more fitness articles by Corey Cenate.
About the Instructor: Corey Cenate is a personal trainer and health/wellness coach at the University of Vermont Medical Center.
I’m a certified health and wellness coach and certified ergonomic assessment specialist at the University of Vermont Medical Center. I’m here today to take you through some stretches, will do both with the TheraBand and without the TheraBand. Using the TheraBand is a cheap, inexpensive way to help increase range of motion and stretching, and you can also use it for strength training, too. My hope is that after my presentation today, you’ll be able to take away one or two small things and be able to implement those in your day to help relieve any muscle soreness or tension and really leave you feeling rejuvenated during your day.
So, things I like to cover today. One, we’ll talk about posture, and we’ll go through some exercises to make sure we’re getting a good self-assessment of our posture throughout the day. Two, we’ll go through the stretches that will help to improve your posture and maintain a healthy posture. And three, we’ll talk about some behavioral strategies that we can implement throughout the day to increase your physical activity and stretching and just ways to boost the exercise in your day.
Self Assessment of Your Posture
So first, we’re going to start with doing kind of, a self-assessment of our posture. This is something to do throughout the day and just listen to our body, figure out where the aches and pains are and really kind of identify those areas to stretch and help us feeling better and happy throughout the day. So, as we’re doing this health assessment, we’re going to go right from the feet all the way to the head.
So, we’ll start with our feet. We want to make sure that we’re nice and balanced. Feet are about hip width apart. If you’re joining me if you liked to stand, you can do this, or you can do it while sitting in your chair as well. So, nice and balanced, with our feet about hip width apart. Our knees are slightly bent, nice and relaxed. Our hips, we want to make sure that our hips are in neutral position, so to get into the neutral position with our hips, we want to think of our hips as a bucket of water. We don’t want the bucket to pour forward, we don’t the bucket to pour back. We want to find that neutral hip position, and it’s, our hips are going to be in line with our heels, our ankles all the way up.
Next, we want to look at our shoulders. We want to make sure that we’re not rounded in the back, want to keep those shoulders nice and open. So, to find the neutral position of the shoulders, we’ll pull our shoulders all the way back, bring forward and then bring them right to that middle ground for the shoulders. So, pull them back, bring them forward and pull them back into that middle ground. Not too far forward, not too far back.
Last piece, of our self-assessment for our posture is the head. We want to make sure that our head, our ears are in line with our shoulders. So, I know you obviously can’t see that, so maybe finding a co-worker or a friend to kind of help assess your posture will help. So, we want to make sure that our ears are in line with our shoulders, so to do that, I’m going to pull my head back just a little bit, gentle stretch, bring forward a little bit, then I’m going to come back and kind of find that middle ground, where it’s not exaggerated either way. Okay so now, if you’re looking, I should be, ears, shoulders, hips, all the way down to my ankles.
So, that’s just a quick and easy way to assess your posture throughout the day. If you’re sitting, very similar. We want to make sure that our feet are flat on the ground, our knees at about 90 to 120 degrees, so they’re a little bit out in front of us. We don’t want to keep our feet pinned underneath our chair. That’s going to reduce our circulation to our lower limbs so we want to make sure that our knees are about 90 to 120 degrees. Our hips are about 90 to 120 degrees. So, you may have to raise or lower your chair to find that ground. If you’re in a chair that is stationary and doesn’t move, you’re going to be, probably really close to 90 degrees.
So, I’m at 90 degrees, my hips, my knees, back to the shoulders like when we were standing, want to make sure those are neutral, pull them back, we’ll bring them forward and then just find that middle ground, where it’s not too far back and not too far forward. Same thing with the head, we want to make sure that our ears in line with our shoulders, we might, your head might be tilted down just a little bit. With the head, every time you come an inch forward in your neck, it adds about 10 pounds of pressure to the spine, so we want to make sure that our head is nice and neutral. So, when you’re texting or your computing, you want to make sure that our head is not down in our lap but we’re bringing the item up into our face, in our line of sight to relieve that pressure on the spine.
Okay, so we’re assessing the posture of standing, our posture sitting. We want to make sure that the seat is nice and firm against our lower back, we had that lumbar support in our lower spine. So, now we’re all nice and neutral, good blood flow going throughout the body. So, those are just two ways to assess the posture standing and sitting. The standing one, obviously you can use that when you’re driving your car as well, just making sure that your body’s in full alignment, we’re not leaning on the center consol or we have one arm up, we’re nice and neutral, our joints are close to our body and everything is nice and close to our body.
Stretching to Help With Posture and Health
All right, so some stretches that we can do to help maintain our posture or improve the posture. We’ll start with the TheraBand. Now the TheraBand, you can get this at your local sport store, you can get it online. The green is typically identified as an intensity resistance that’s middle ground, not too hard, not too easy. Black is usually designated for a harder, more resistant band, with the lighter colors like yellow are more of a lighter resistance. But be sure to educate yourself on what color you’re buying and from what manufacture. They all have different guidelines. You want to make sure that there’s no tears or rips in your TheraBand, you want to keep it in a dry spot, like in a bag so that it doesn’t get all brittle and cracked.
All right, so the first one we’re going to do is just a simple exercise for the shoulders, to just kind of open up the shoulders and you can increase the intensity by the width of how you hold the band. So, whether you’re holding it wider for less intensity for this exercise or closer. You can also do this without the band by just raising your hands with me. So, I’m going to go a little bit wider than hip width apart with the band and what I’m going to do is just bring it right up over my head, nice and slow and controlled. And you’re going to feel a slight, slight tension in the shoulder, where you can’t go any further. Hold that, and then come right back down. Take a nice deep breath as you’re stretching. Bring that right up and back down.
If you feel any discomfort, don’t go as high with the stretch, or if you feel any pain, certainly stop. That might be signs of something more serious and that would be something to consult with a health professional. So we’re going to do a variation of that stretch. We’re going to go up over the head and then behind the head with hands. So, we’re going to go up, nice and slow and controlled. When we get to the top, we’re going to stop for one second and then we’re going to come down, pull those shoulder blades together, nice good squeeze in the back. Come right back up and down.
So this is a good one to open up the chest, open up the shoulders, really help improve that posture in your upper thoracic area. One more time, we’ll go up, to the top. Bring our hands down behind the neck, squeeze the shoulder blades together. Good, right back up and over. So, the TheraBand is good, in that it helps to keep alignment with both limbs that are moving, both arms that are moving. Whereas if you didn’t, one might be moving a certain direction other than the other. So, it helps to kind of keep both hands in alignment, both shoulders in alignment, and really create unison in the arms.
All right, so that’s a couple exercises you can do with the TheraBand. If you do a lot of computing or mousing, you’re using your hands a lot, your flexors and extensors in your lower arm, might be a little tense, a little sore at the end of the day or in the middle of the day. So, one stretch that you can do for the flexors and extensors is a easy one. We’re going to put our palm out, face up, palm up. Use your opposite hand, put it in your palm and gently pull that hand back. If you feel any discomfort, you can bend a little bit or bring that hand closer to you. It’ll decrease the intensity of that stretch. The further out the more intense the stretch would be. We’re going to hold this for about five to 10 seconds, just a brief stretch and relax, do a couple wrist rolls, clockwise and counter clockwise. Good.
I’ll switch hands. Palm out, grab it with the opposite hand and pull that hand back. You don’t want to grab the fingers that you could strain some muscles with that, some ligaments with that, so we want to make sure that we grab right in the palm, so it doesn’t create too intense of a stretch. Again, if it’s too intense, we can bring that hand closer to our body and decrease that stretch if it’s too much. Five to 10 seconds stretch and then relax. A couple wrist rolls. This is really meant throughout the day, every hour, getting up and getting in a little stretch.
Now we’re going to do the opposite side, the extensors. So, we’re going to stretch the top part. Our hands going to be out, we’re going to go down and to the outside. So, if you’re watching on the camera here, so we’re going to go down and out to the outside, grab the back of the hand and pull back. Nice and easy, hold that for about five to 10 seconds and relax, couple wrist rolls. With the opposite hand this time, hand out in front, we’re going to go down to the outside of our body, grab the back of the hand, right around the thumb and gently pull back. You’re going to feel that stretch right in the back here of the arm. Again, any discomfort you can back off the stretch a little bit. Good, wrist rolls and relax.
All right. Next one we’re going to do, just a simple shoulder roll, just to kind of alleviate any pressure in the upper trapezius or the neck. So, we’re just going to do some, bring the shoulders up to the ears and bring those shoulders forward. Bring them back, up to the ears and forward, very good. Now, let’s go backwards, we’re going to go forward up to the ears, back and down. One more time. Forward, up, back and down, very good. Shake it out a little bit.
Okay, we’ve done the upper body, now we’re going to work our way down to the lower body. So, a little lower back and flexor stretch, feet are going to be a little bit wider than hip width apart. If you need a chair, you can certainly hold on to the chair or a table. Hands can go on your lower back or for some support, or on your hips. We’re simply just going to lean back a little bit, try not to look at the ceiling, you might get a little dizzy, lean back and then come forward. You’re going to feel the stretch in your lower back and a little bit into the hip flexors as well. One more time. Lean back, you can do this in your chair as well. Lean back and forward. Very good. So, we going to feel that in the lower back, a little bit in the hip flexors.
Next one we’re going to do, we’re going to work our way down into the hamstring, into the glutes. We’re going to go one foot in front of the other. Again, if you need to, you can use a chair, use the back of a chair for support if you need to. Feet are going to be about a foot apart and about six inches wide from each other. We’re going to lean back on the leg that’s behind us and we’re going to point the leg that’s in front, point the toe to the sky. You’re going to feel that and right behind the leg of the leg that’s in front, bending over here, feeling that stretch. Again, five to 10 seconds, just a brief stretch and relax. Good, switch legs, about a foot apart, six inches wide. Lean back, feel that stretch in the hamstring. Very good, nice and easy, five to 10 second stretch, just a quick little stretch break.
So, those are some stretches you can implement during the day to help improve posture, help get some blood flow, help get the oxygen flowing throughout the body. But there’s only as good as much as we implement them. So, for every hour that you’re sitting, you want to try and get up for a couple minutes to do these stretches. Walking meetings are another great way to increase your activity. Get outside, do some stretching outside, elicit a co-worker or a friend to join you, that’s always fun.
Two things that you really want to to be aware of as you’re going throughout your day. Repetitive motions, things that you’re doing a lot of. If you’re doing a lot of mousing or keyboarding, we want to make sure that we keep our hands up off, our wrists off the keyboard, we’re floating like a pianist. We don’t want to have any pressure on wrist as we’re typing or as we’re mousing.
And I’m going to take a wild guess here, a lot of you probably mouse with your right hand and you’ve probably been doing that for 10, 20, 30 years. Just a recommendation, slide it over the left side and now we’ve taken all the pressure off the right arm in the mousing, to the left side, now we can kind of equal out the work between the arms. Just a fun little tip. Repetitive movements like that, if you’re doing a lot of driving, balancing out which hand you’re steering with. If you have one hand on top of the steering wheel, switching up which arms on the steering wheel or keeping both hands nice and close to the body and maintaining those neutral postures throughout the day.
I hope that you gained one or two small things that you can implement in your day to alleviate any muscle tension, muscle soreness and just really get the blood flowing, get the oxygen flowing, leaving you feeling happy throughout the day. Thank you and have a great day.