Five stretches you can do at your chair to reduce muscle tension

They can also improve flexibility and release stress

Woman doing seated chair stretches
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Are you stuck sitting at a desk for the majority of the day and then end up leaving work with sore and stiff muscles? Then you probably already know you need to make more time to move your body and stretch. However, finding the time to do this can be tricky, but with these five simple stretches you’ll be able to easily incorporate them into your everyday routine. They’ll take you no longer than seven minutes, plus you don’t even have to leave your chair to do them. 

The NHS says that the average adult spends around nine hours a day sitting (that’s 63 hours a week!). “Excessive sitting slows the metabolism – which affects our ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and metabolise fat – and may cause weaker muscles and bones”. Harvard Health also adds that prolonged periods of sitting can lead to our hip flexors and hamstrings to become tight and stiff, which can contribute to lower back and knee pain.  

Try and break up your sitting every 30 minutes to an hour with these five stretches. Hold each one for 30 seconds (on both sides where applicable) and aim for at least two rounds. Either follow along in the video above, or we've popped some more detail below on each exercise.

Five seated stretches

  • Seated forward fold: Sitting upright in your chair, lift your right leg and lie your ankle across your left thigh (your right leg should be bent at a 90 degree angle). Gently press down on your right knee to feel a stretch in your hip flexors and lean forwards slightly. Hold for 30 seconds, then swap legs.
  • Standing quad stretch: Stand behind your chair and place your right hand on the back of it for balance. Grab the back of your left ankle with your left hand and pull your foot towards your bum until you feel a stretch down your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, then swap legs.
  • Elevated hamstring stretch: Place the heel of your right leg onto the base of your chair (be careful if it moves) so your leg is extended. Keeping a neutral spine, hinge at the hips and lower your chest towards your thigh until your feel a stretch in the hamstring. Hold for 30 seconds, then swap legs.
  • Chest stretch: Sitting upright on the edge of your chair, clasp your hands behind your back and puff out your chest and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds, then release.
  • Assisted hinge: Stand about a metre behind the back of your chair and rest both hands on it. Have a slight bend in your knees, keep your neutral spine and hinge at the hips to push your bum backwards and lower your chest towards the floor (imagine it's trying to touch an imaginary wall behind it). You should feel a stretch in your back and the back of the hamstrings. Hold for 30 seconds.

If you're in need of some more straight-forward stretches, then you should give this 8-move stretch routine that uses just a wall a try. Want to unwind before bedtime? These five stretches will help you relax and ease tension for a peaceful slumber. Alternatively, it may be worth looking to invest in one of the best massage guns or foam rollers to help soothe away aches and pains. 

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.