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Office Stretches for Athletes (or Anyone!)

As a triathlete, runner, cyclist, skier, your body is put through intense training on a regular basis. Whatever your discipline, all require different muscle groups and put strain on your body. While this training is essential for race performance, it can lead to muscle tightness, poor posture, and discomfort when sitting at a desk for work. This is why it's important to incorporate stretching into your daily work routine. A few simple offices stretches for athletes done throughout the day can provide relief from postural strains and make you feel more comfortable at your desk.

Arms outreached stretching the wrists

Some Subtle Office Stretches for Athletes

Upper Body and Arm Stretches

Tight shoulders, neck, and upper back are common problems for athletes. Here are some quick stretches to help relieve tension:

- Seated shoulder rolls: Sit tall and roll shoulders up, back, and down in slow circles. Repeat 5-10 times.

- Chin tucks: Sit or stand tall, tuck chin in slightly and hold for 5 seconds. Return to neutral and repeat 5-10 times.

- Wrist flex:  This stretches the wrist extensors.  Normally the wrist should lock out before muscle tightness is felt in this area.  If muscle tension is felt on the back side of the arm it is very effective at relieving that tightness.  Extend one arm straight out with palm down. Use other hand to gently bend wrist down. Hold for 2 seconds. Repeat 10 times on each arm.

- Overhead reach: Interlace fingers and reach arms overhead, palms up. Push hands up toward ceiling and hold this active exercise for up to 30 seconds.

These simple arm and upper back stretches can be done discreetly at a desk to address tightness caused by swimming and cycling.

Lower Body Stretches 

Tight hips, glutes, and hamstrings are other problem areas for athletes that can get worse from prolonged sitting. Try these subtle stretches:

- Ankle rolls: Lift feet off floor and roll ankles slowly in circles. Repeat 5-10 times clockwise and counterclockwise.

- Leg extensions: Straighten one leg fully under desk. Flex the quadriceps and hold maximum tension for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

- Glute squeeze: Squeeze glutes together for 5 seconds while sitting up tall. Release and repeat 5-10 times.  

- Hamstring stretch: Sitting, extend one leg straight out while contracting the quads. Hinge forward from hips and reach toward toes until stretch is felt. Hold 2 seconds, repeat 10 times.

Stretching the major lower body muscle groups engaged in running and cycling can make long days at a desk more comfortable.

Keep Moving!

Incorporating small stretches throughout the workday is an easy habit for athletes to adopt. The arm, upper back, hips, glutes and hamstrings are key areas to target since they tend to get tight from training. Just a few minutes of stretching at your desk can relieve postural strains and prevent discomfort as well as prepare the body for a more comfortable afternoon workout. This allows you to stay focused at work while keeping your body primed for your next training session. Consistent stretching makes balancing a desk job and triathlon training sustainable.


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