If you spend a lot of time sitting, there's a good chance you have tight hamstrings. These muscles run from the back of your pelvis to the back of your knees and, when you sit in a chair, these muscles are in a shortened position, often for long periods of time. Tight hamstrings can cause leg stiffness and even lead to low back pain.
The good news is, you can stretch these muscles without even leaving your desk. Stretching can be slightly uncomfortable, but should not be painful.
Bent-Over Hamstring Stretch
The bent-over hamstring stretch is performed while standing. Use your desk as support for your upper body during this stretch.
How-to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your knees straight and lower back slightly arched, bend forward at your hips until you feel pulling along the back of your thighs. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Office Chair Stretch
Stretch your hamstrings while sitting in your office chair. A small stool, box of copy paper or other sturdy object can be used to prop up your foot during this stretch.
How-to: Sit up straight at the edge of your chair. Prop you right heel up on the stool and point your toes up toward the ceiling. Keeping your knee straight, bend forward at your hips until you feel a pull along the back of your right thigh. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then relax. Perform this stretch three times on each leg. To intensify the stretch, prop your leg on a taller object.
To perform the table-top stretch, you need to clear some space on your desk.
How-to: Stand sideways next to your desk. Place one leg entirely on your desk with your knee straight. Stand up straight and point your toes toward the ceiling. If you already feel a stretch in the back of your thigh, hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds. To increase this stretch, bend forward at the hips until you feel a stretch. Perform three times, then switch legs.
Desk Panel/File Cabinet Stretch
The desk panel/file cabinet stretch is an adapted version of the doorway hamstring stretch. All you need is a flat panel on the side of your desk. You can also stretch against a file cabinet.
How-to: Sit down on the floor with your feet toward the side of your desk. Place the bottom of your right foot against the edge of the panel and lie down on your back. Scoot toward the desk and slowly slide your right heel up the desk panel until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Depending on how tight your muscles are, your knee might still be a bit bent. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then bend your knee to relax. Stretch three times and switch legs.
- The Physical Therapy Advisor: Hamstring Stretches
- Journal of Sports Medicine: Immediate Effects of Neurodynamic Sliding versus Muscle Stretching on Hamstring Flexibility in Subjects with Short Hamstring Syndrome
- Aurora Health Care: Lower Extremity Stretching Home Exercise Program
- BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders: Restriction in Lateral Bending Range of Motion, Lumbar Lordosis, and Hamstring Flexibility Predicts the Development of Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review of Prospective Cohort Studies