Keeping up with your physical health while you’re working is challenging, but can lead to a more positive outlook on your professional and personal life. Throughout the day, especially for those who spend most of their working hours at a desk, various ailments such as back pain can arise without proper posture or a lack of movement. By just stretching your body out, you can find an increase in muscular balance and health, as well as an improvement to your posture.

Stretching has many benefits relative to the time/energy investment it requires. It decreases the tightness and resistance your tendons and muscles can have after being still for extended periods of time; improves overall flexibility to keep them strong and healthy which maintaining a healthy range of motion; when faced with a sudden blow or stretch of muscles, proper stretching can reduce or eliminate spasms, more commonly known as “Charley Horses.” It’s never ideal to double over in pain if you suffer a muscle spasm after you accidentally stretch too hard when standing from your desk after a long period of inactivity.

According to the Mayo Clinic, here are a number of things you can do to stretch safely:

  • Don’t consider stretching a warmup. Get loose by walking around an office or building and generally moving the muscles around for about 10 minutes before actually stretching.  You want to stretch while your body is ‘warm’ instead of while your muscles are ‘cold.’ This helps avoid injuries.
  • Focus on major muscle groups such as thighs, hips, lower back, or the muscles and joints you use a daily basis.
  • Be sure to stretch both sides of each muscle as well (i.e., quadriceps/hamstrings, bicep/triceps).
  • Stay consistent with your stretching so your muscles and body get used to a routine. If you’re constantly stretching your muscles, the risk of spasm, tightness and injuries is reduced.

When you drop the notion that stretching can be more than just something to do before a workout, you’ll find that being active and mobile can be done anywhere at any time that’s convenient for you, even during the 9-5 workday.