I tried these two stretches to reduce the damage of my desk job and they provided immediate relief

Just five minutes of regular stretching could help you counteract the damage of long periods of sitting

Woman doing couch stretch
(Image credit: Alice Porter)

I’ve only just started realizing how damaging long periods of sitting can be. Having worked a desk job for a number of years, I've gradually started to develop lower-back pain, tight hips and aches and pains in my shoulders.

Quitting my day job isn't an option, so I'm looking for ways to combat the stress that extended periods of sitting puts on my body.

Regular stretching is one of the easiest ways to try and ease stiff hips and back pain, so I decided to try a routine created by mobility and rehab specialist Leigh Edwards. 

It's designed specifically for people like me who sit for long hours, and features just two movements: one to open the hips and one to stretch the thoracic (middle) spine.

Watch Leigh Edwards' two-move mobility routine for desk job workers

The first stretch is the couch stretch, which opens up the hips and front thighs (quads). To do it, you assume a half-kneeling stance with a wall positioned close behind you. One foot should be touching the wall and the other should be firmly planted on the ground. From here, you lean forwards, to find a deep stretch in the hips. 

This is followed by a thoracic mobility stretch, which should increase flexibility in the upper body. To do this one, you kneel facing the wall and place your hands against its surface, roughly at shoulder height. You then push your hips back and bring your torso down towards the ground, to stretch out your shoulders and spine. 

Edwards recommends 5-10 reps of each exercise for one or two sets. I did eight reps of each movement and completed the sets twice. 

Woman doing a thoracic mobility exercise.

(Image credit: Alice Porter)

The thoracic stretch opened up my shoulders, back and chest, while the couch stretch revealed just how tight my lower-body muscles were. I could feel it lengthening and soothing my hip flexors and quads. 

The combination of stretches provided immediate relief and I actually felt less achy in my lower back when I returned to my desk.

Five minutes of stretching isn't enough to cure my desk-job ailments but I'm hoping that by incorporating stretches like these into my daily routine I'll see longer-term benefits.

If you're looking for more routines to try, I'd recommend these yoga stretches for beginners or these hip-opening stretches for desk workers. 

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Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.