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Sitting for long periods can leave your body sore and aching. One way to remedy this is to do stretches. Stretching your upper body regularly can relieve tight muscles and can help you maintain good posture.
If you feel like you’ve been sitting for too long and your muscles are begging to be moved, here are some upper-body dynamic stretches that you can do in the office or at home.
Dynamic Stretching vs Static Stretching
Stretching can improve your full range of motion, enhance joint mobility, increase strength, and even help relieve stress. But before we dive into your new upper body workout stretch routine, it’s important to know the difference between static stretches and dynamic stretches. Differentiating the two can help you determine which one you should do at the right time.
Dynamic stretches are often done as a warm-up because they are a great way to raise the body temperature and get the body ready for any activity. They are controlled movements that warm your muscles and prepare the connective tissue for the upcoming intense training they are about to engage in.
Any dynamic upper body stretch can help decrease muscle stiffness, increase blood flow to your muscles, and even raise muscle temperature. These are best done before cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, or competitive activity.
A static stretch is a stretch that you hold for a prolonged period of time, anywhere between 15 to 45 seconds. This type of stretching is generally done at the end of workouts. These stretch exercises are more of a relaxation movement and can help relieve muscle fatigue.
Your Office-Friendly Dynamic Upper Body Workout
Dynamic stretches are often done as a warm-up to prepare your joints and muscles for the workout ahead. It also aids in improving your flexibility, increasing your blood circulation, and strengthening your tissues. Try out these exercises for a complete upper-body training session!
Arm circles can help relieve pressure in the upper traps. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, spine straight, head up, and arms straight to shoulder height at your sides. Next, rotate both arms in forward-moving circles. Keep the circles small, roughly 6 inches in diameter. Rotate your arms ten times forward, and then reverse direction and rotate ten times backward.
Next, increase the size of the circles, letting your shoulder muscles warm up and move more noticeably. Perform 10 forward circles and 10 backward circles. Increase the size of the circles again, this time swinging your arms to their nearly full extension. You’ll feel your shoulder muscles limbering and warming up. Your range of motion will drastically increase.
This stretch will limber up your rotational muscles and engage your hips and pelvic muscles as well. To perform this, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Ensure your spine is straight, head up, and arms extended to shoulder height at your sides. Place your palms facing downward.
Step your right foot forward and swing your arms around to your left side. Try to keep your body straight but let your arms swing across the front of your body. Step your right foot backward and swing your arms around to your right this time. Repeat 10 to 15 times per side.
This one works both the upper and the lower body. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, lunge forward with your right leg, ensuring that your knee does not extend beyond your ankle. Take your left arm and extend it over the head while bending your torso to the right. Return to the standing position and repeat this movement with the left leg lunging forward and the right arm extending over the head. Complete five reps on either side.
Start standing or sitting with good posture. Then, lift your right arm up to the sky and bend your elbow with your fingertips touching your upper back. Keep your left hand on top of your right elbow and your upper arm close to your right ear.
Heel Sit with Rotation
Achy lower back or tight upper back? This stretch can help improve mobility in your thoracic spine and give you relief. Begin with your knees on the ground. Sit back into your heels with your laces flat on the ground. Next, bend your torso over and place your forearms on the floor in front of you.
Put one of your hands behind your head, and reach up and behind you with your elbow. You should feel a stretch in your upper back. Do all your reps on one side, and then repeat with the opposite arm.
Standing Side Crunch
Stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your head. Shift your weight to your left leg, crunch to the right side, and then bring your right knee up toward your right arm and elbow. Lower your right leg, returning to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your arms extended to shoulder height at your sides. Keep your lower body still as you twist your upper half to the right. Don’t twist to the point of discomfort but stop when you hit the “stiff” point. Twist back in the other direction. Repeat 15 to 20 times per side.
Stronger lower traps help your shoulder blades move correctly. This upper body dynamic stretch can activate those small muscles to reset your posture and improve the movement patterns of your upper body. Begin by standing with your head, shoulders/upper back, and glutes against a wall. Press your forearms flush against the wall.
As much as possible, there should be no space between your skin and the wall. Squeeze your glutes and press your lower back against the wall. Slide your arms straight up and down the wall.
Upper body dynamic stretches help activate your muscles and your nervous system, allowing you to be prepared for any activity ahead. These stretches can increase your mobility and stability in all the right places.