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Realign Your Body

How to stretch after a long day

Sitting for too long can actually have harmful effects on your body. Do you ever feel exhausted and sore after sitting at your desk all day?

"Holding any position for a long period of time can wear on your body, especially if you're sitting," says Alycea Ungaro, founder of Real Pilates. "Sitting puts your muscles in a short, contracted position, and your range of motion gets reduced."

Here are three important stretches that target the body's most affected areas—the back, shoulders, chest, legs, and feet—to counteract the strain and shortening of muscles.

1. Reverse Plank
A. Begin sitting with legs stretched out in front of body. Place hands on the mat behind you, palms back and fingers facing body.
B. Press hips up high, holding legs together. Keep head forward looking right down the center of legs. Lift chest up higher and higher.
C. Hold for 5 breaths or 10 seconds. Lower the hips with control. Repeat two more times.

2. Heel Sit
A. Kneel on mat in an upright sitting position with legs together and feet underneath you.
B. Tuck toes under, bending them fully and stretching the soles of the feet. Place hands on thighs for added support. Sit and hold the position for 30 seconds. Work up to 2 minutes, continuing to lift in the chest and put increasingly more weight into the balls of the feet the longer you hold.

3. Lunges
A. Kneel down and step one foot forward into a deep hip lunge. Place hands on your knees for stability and keep upper body upright.
B. Shift weight back, coming out of the stretch and then lunge back into it. Hold for 5 breaths or 10 seconds. Repeat 3 to 5 times, then switch sides..

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