Resistance band stretches for people who sit all day
Updated: Sep 3
Beloved by physical therapists, resistance bands are a simple, low-impact way to take care of your body and combat the stiffness and pain that comes from long hours of sitting. Most commonly thought of as a workout tool, exercise bands serve a variety of purposes, including improving circulation, recovering from injury, and increasing flexibility.
Because they are light and portable, resistance bands are easy to bring on vacation, to conferences, and beyond. But knowing how exactly to use the multicolored bands isn’t always intuitive. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Resistance band benefits:
Increases circulation: sitting for long periods of time reduces circulation, especially in our legs. This matters because healthy blood and oxygen flow helps your heart, lungs, and muscles work together efficiently. Resistance bands are a great way to get your blood pumping without a ton of effort.
Improves posture: the tendons and muscles that connect our shoulders to our chest tense up throughout the day, especially if you’re hunched at a computer. This puts extra strain on our upper back muscles and, in turn, can lead to bad posture and back pain. Resistance bands help lengthen and strengthen those chest and shoulder muscles that keep you upright.
Increases flexibility: sitting all day at a computer can cause our muscles to stiffen up, making it important to take frequent movement breaks and give those muscles a little extra attention after a long day of work. Resistance bands provide just enough push-and-pull to help lengthen and strengthen without the need for heavy weights or yoga.
Supports heart health: resistance training is key to increasing the good cholesterol (HDL) and lowering the bad (LDL) cholesterol in your body. In combination with aerobic exercise, resistance bands are an easy way to integrate heart healthy, low-impact movement into your day.
Five resistance band exercises
1. Bellows breath with resistance band
What this helps: opens your chest and lungs so that you can take deeper and fuller breaths.
Directions: While sitting down, place your hands inside the loop of the resistance band, with the band around your wrists. Straighten your arms, but do not lock your elbows. Press your arms away from each other until you meet the point of resistance. Then, raise your hands up to chest level and then directly over your head. Inhale and then exhale deeply. Return to the starting position and repeat ten times.
2. Sitting leg abductors
What this helps: strengthens hip abductors and helps relieve tightness.
Directions: Sit on the edge of a chair with your legs apart. Loop your feet through the resistance band and then place the band around your thighs, slightly above the knees. Tuck your pelvis slightly and using your hips, push your knees outward and as wide as you can. Hold for a moment and then allow the knees to return to center in a slow and controlled movement. Repeat for a total of ten to fifteen times.
3. Shoulder stretch
What this helps: corrects “computer posture” where pectoral muscles shorten from shoulder being rolled forward.
Directions: from a standing position, reach behind you to hook each thumb through the band. Roll your shoulders back and open your chest, slowly raising your arms behind you, allowing the band to stretch slightly. Do not raise your arms higher than feels comfortable. Take a few deep breaths and release slowly. Repeat two more times.
4. Band Walk Forward/Back
What this helps: strengthens hip abductors and improves balance.
Directions: Place the band around your ankles with your feet hip width apart. Bend your knees slightly. With your core activated and back straight, take a large step diagonally forward to the left or right. Pause and take a large step forward with the other leg. Take five more steps with each leg and then reverse. This exercise is also called “monster walking” because of its clunky steps.
5. Resistance band pull apart
What this helps: targets the shoulder and upper back. This exercise is great for anyone wanting to improve their posture.
Directions: Loop the band around your hands and hold at chest level with your arms bent and your elbows tucked into your sides. Without moving your elbows, spread your arms out as the band pulls tighter. Bring the band back to the starting position in a slow and controlled manner and repeat ten times. Make sure to keep your core braced.
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Safety note: if you are recovering from an injury or are concerned about your ability to perform these exercises, please contact your doctor before trying these exercises.