Simple Stretches to Reduce the Pain of Sitting

physical therapist, Diane Foley
Diane Foley, Physical Therapist

Written by:  Diane Foley

Simple stretches can reduce the injury and pain syndromes that result from muscle tightness when you sit for prolonged periods of time. This is great news in light of the fact that quite a few of us sit for a good part of the day. This article is the second in the series on how you can avoid and possibly even reverse tight and painful muscles. It starts with taking short breaks during the work day and actively stretching.

The 5 Most Common Muscle Groups:

The 5 most common muscle groups that tighten up with prolonged sitting include the neck muscles, pectoral muscles (chest), low back muscles, hip flexors (front hip muscles), and the back of legs. In last week’s article, A Few Simple Moves, we learned the simple move for stretching the neck muscles. This week we will take a look at the chest (pectoral) muscles. Before you even begin, please check with your physician before you make any changes to your health regimen and if something hurts when you do it, immediately stop.

Chest (Pectoral) Muscles:

When writing, the shoulders are usually positioned in a forward position causing the chest (pectoral) muscles to become tight.

Doorway Stretch:

Chest Stretch, Pectoral Stretch, Doorway Stretch
Diane Foley, Physical Therapist — Doorway Stretch for Chest
  • Stand in the middle of an open door frame.
  • Take one small step backwards.
  • Lift your right arm up to the side to shoulder level and bend your arm at the elbow with your palm facing forward.
  • Keeping your arm at shoulder level, place your forearm on the door jam and lunge forward onto your left leg.


Doorway Stretch, Chest Stretch, Pectoral Muscles
Diane Foley, Physical Therapist — Doorway Stretch for Chest — Rear Vie
  • Move your upper torso forward placing weight onto the front leg until you feel a stretch in the front chest muscles.
  • Hold the position for 20-30 seconds and then go back to the beginning position.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.


Chest Stretch 2:

Chest Stretch, Pectoral Stretch, Stretches
Diane Foley, Physical Therapist
Pectoral Stretch
  • Stand with your hands clasped behind you.
  • Keeping hands clasped, lift arms up behind the body until you feel a stretch in the front chest muscles.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  • Repeat 2-3 times.



Next week we’ll take a look at the low back muscles. How many hours do you usually sit in a day?

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