Nothing says confidence like good posture and a body that moves well. If you spend too much time hunched over a screen (don’t we all!), try these targeted moves to stay agile and radiant.

* New moves added weekly! *

Ankle Mobility Stretch

You probably don’t spend much time thinking about your ankles. Trouble is, living in shoes can reduce ankle mobility, and that can have impacts all the way up your body (yes, even back and neck pain). Here’s a super easy way to practice full extension of your ankle joint:

  1. Roll up a towel and place it on the floor behind you.
  2. Come to a standing kneel in front of the towel and place the tops of your feet on the towel.
  3. If your ankles are very tight, this might already be enough of a stretch. Play around with shifting your weight backwards to see how that feels. You should experience a comfortable stretch along the front of your feet and shins.
  4. If you’re ready for a deeper stretch, slowly lower your hips down to sit on your heels. Move gently and stop as soon as you feel any pain.
  5. The goal is to get where you are comfortable moving up and down, SLOWLY, for 8-10 reps.

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Chair Core Engagement

One of the side effects of a sedentary day is limited use of your deep core muscles. We’re talking about the ones needed to get you off the ground and keep your spine stable. Here’s an excellent way to wake those muscles up and get them stronger.

1. Find a stable chair and scoot to the front of the seat.

2. Grab the side edges of the chair with your hands and lift your behind into the air, keeping your feet on the ground. Hold for 5 full seconds.

Very important: your butt must remain behind your hands. To accomplish this lift, you’ll need to engage your deep core muscles. Think of drawing your abs back toward your spine and upward.

3. Practice just step 1 until it becomes comfortable. When you’re ready to move on, do the same lift, except now extend your right leg out in front of you. Hold for 5 seconds.

4. Relax for a beat, and then lift up again and lift your left leg. Hold for 5 seconds.

5. Practice these for as many days as you need to get comfortable. When you’re ready, try lifting both legs in the air! 

ALWAYS make sure you only do this on a very stable surface that will not tip over.

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Kneeling Sideways Hip Opener

One of the biggest detriments of sitting is the fact that it tightens up your hip flexors. Since sitting is unavoidable, it really helps to prioritize movements that open up your hips. Here’s a beautifully simple way to stretch both the inside and outside of the hip capsule.

  1. Start by standing upright on your knees. Keeping your right foot directly behind your right knee, bring your left leg out to the side, foot flat on the floor, and with your left knee pointing out to the left.

2. Slowly shift your weight sideways, out to the left, keeping your torso facing forward.

3. Hold for a beat, breathe and enjoy a comfortable stretch.

4. Slowly return to the starting position.

5. Repeat 8-10 reps on each side.

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Wide Leg Seated Spinal Twist

Movement is nourishment for your spine. So don’t just sit there, put your chair to use, and let’s put your spine through some delicious lateral movement and rotation! Bonus: it feels AWESOME

  1. Scoot to the front of your chair and widen your legs to the side, while placing your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Bring your left arm across your body to grab the top of the right chair leg, directly below your seat.
  3. Next, take your right arm and cross it over the top of your left, placing your right arm somewhere on top of your left thigh.
  4. Gently and carefully begin to drop your torso down towards the floor, keeping your hands where they are. If it’s too intense, you can try bringing your legs a bit closer together.
  5. Once you have reached a suitably comfortable forward bend, slowly start to rotate your torso up to the left. You can use gentle pressure against your left thigh with your right hand, guiding the movement, but never forcing it. 
  6. Take a few deep breaths at the top, seeing if you can relax even deeper into the twist.
  7. Repeat on the other side.

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Overhead Arm Circles

Today we’re showing you how to zero in on your upper back and chest and give them a delicious stretch:

  1. Stand with your feet hips-width apart and bend your knees slightly.
  2. Reach your arms straight overhead and grab your left elbow with your right hand. 
  3. Reaching nice and tall, slowly start to move your torso in a circle… imagine you’re drawing a circle on the ceiling with your left fingers.
  4. Move slowly and feel an opening in your side body, ribcage, upper back and chest.
  5. See if you can start to make the circles bigger, without moving your feet.
  6. Do about 8-10 circles and then switch sides.

What’s the secret? By locking your arms in place overhead, you’re isolating the stretch into your upper back and chest, rather than using your arms and shoulders.

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Seated Thoracic Rotation

Day to day, most of us primarily move our bodies in a front-to-back way. We might bend over to pick something up, to tie our shoes, pet the dog. We spend far less time moving our spine in other directions – like twisting it fully to each side.

If you want to maintain a healthy spine, here’s a simple way to get movement in this very important range of motion:

Scoot to the front of your chair. Put your hands on your knees and – keeping your spine long – lower your chest to the tops of your knees.

Now reach your right hand down to the outside of your left ankle and grab hold.

Gently pushing your left hand into your left knee, start to twist your torso to the left. Slowly, keeping your spine nice and long, think about stretching the top of your head toward the front of the room while you start to peel your left shoulder up toward the ceiling. You can use your right hand to pull against your left ankle to help you get deeper into the twist, if you’d like.

Only once this feels good, you can try for full extension. Slowly start to reach your left arm up toward the sky and feel your chest open as your spine rotates.

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Ulnar Nerve Slider

The ulnar nerve runs from your neck all the way down your arm. If you work at a computer, it’s super common for this nerve to get compressed, causing pain. Here’s a simple move to “slide and glide” the ulnar nerve, which helps keep your range of motion open and free for optimal movement.

  1. Take your right hand and make the “okay” symbol in front of your right chest, making a circle with your thumb and forefinger.
  2. You’re going to lead this movement with your right elbow, lifting it towards the sky as you bring your hand to rest upside down over the top of your eye.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat 8-10 reps on each side.

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Big Toe Mobility (with Towel)

Your big toe is way more important than you probably realize. In fact, without it, you’d have trouble walking. Not only does it provide the majority of stabilization for your foot (keeping you upright), but it’s also how you push off the ground (enabling you to walk).

If you spend most of your walking time in shoes (which restrict your toe movement), odds are high your big toes have lost some of their natural range of motion, and ability to move on their own.

The result of limited toe mobility? Pain in your ankles, shins, knees, hips, and lower back.
Here’s a simple exercise to keep those toes mobile:

  1. Fold up a towel and place it on the floor. The width of the towel should match the width of your feet when you’re standing normally.

2. Keeping your feet and all other toes on the ground, place just your big toes up on the side edge of the towel. Adjust the towel height if necessary – you want to feel a stretch in your toes, but nothing painful.

3. Slowly rise up onto your toes, lifting your heels in the air, keeping your big toes up on the towel.

4. Slowly lower back down to a flat-footed position.

5. Repeat 8-10 reps

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Backwards Chair Sphinx

You already know that a great way to counteract sitting is to get some rotation into your middle and upper back. Stretching is good, but it’s more effective when you also add slow and repeated movements. This way, your muscles actually learn to work in this range of motion.

Turn around in your chair and place your hands on the backrest, either at or slightly below shoulder level.

Keeping your right arm still, slowly begin to straighten your left arm, using it to push your upper body into a gentle twist to the left. Sit tall and allow your head to rotate naturally in line with your spine.

Only twist as far as you can comfortably go. Hold for a beat, and then slowly return to the start. Stick with this side for 5-8 reps, and inhale as you twist back, exhale as you return.

Repeat on the other side.

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Cat & Cow Shoulder Opener

Whether you realize it or not, your upper back and shoulders are intricately connected. While it’s good to stretch and move each part in isolation (to keep their movements from getting “stuck” together), it can also be therapeutic to move them together. Here’s a delicious way to do just that:

You can sit or stand for this one.

  1. Start with your spine neutral and your arms reaching straight out from your shoulders, palms facing forward
  2. As you inhale, reach your chest and collarbones up to the sky, causing a slight arch (but not collapse) in your lower back. It’s very important here to think of growing taller, rather than collapsing into the spine. As part of the same movement, also rotate your arms so your palms face up to the sky. Pause for a beat to enjoy the stretch.
  3. As you exhale, round forward so your chin drops to your chest, while simultaneously rotating your arms forward, so that the backs of your hands point towards the ground.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times, as feels good.

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Elevated Neck Tension Relief

Got tension in your face? Here’s another way to treat it from the inside out.

You see, if you have a tight, tense neck, it can actually pull your face muscles down, giving you that “stressed-out” look. So let’s take care of those tense neck muscles!

Stand with your side facing a wall or doorway and lift your right elbow to shoulder level.

With your right palm facing front, place your elbow and forearm against the wall.

Gently move your chin down and toward your left collarbone. Feel a gentle stretch in the back and side of your neck.

Hold for 20-30 seconds while taking slow, deep breaths.

Repeat on the other side.

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Kneeling Shoulder Slide

That tight, tense feeling in your neck, shoulders and upper back. It can ruin your day (and night!). Sometimes stretching just doesn’t cut it when it comes to loosening the effects of sitting at a screen all day. A better remedy is bringing gentle movement back to that area.

Begin in child’s pose, kneeling with your chest resting on your thighs and your forearms on the floor directly in front of you. Turn your right thumb to the sky.

Let your head hang heavy during this move, neck fully relaxed.

Allow the right arm to continue resting on the floor as you slowly slide it forward until it is completely straight. Take care not to scrunch the shoulder up around the ear.

Slowly return to the starting position and repeat 8-10 reps on each arm.

Why is this important? Over time, our shoulder and back muscles get sticky and start moving together, rather than separately. That’s why we can lose range of motion in our shoulders. This move gently guides you through shoulder range of motion without allowing the back muscles to help.

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Seated Spine & Hip Opener

No time to go to yoga class? You can still take care of your hips and spine anytime you want. This one looks innocent enough, but it is deep medicine for all the parts of your body that get locked up when you sit too much…

Scoot to the front of your chair and bring your legs as wide as is comfortable for you. Feet should be flat on the floor, with your toes pointed out to the sides.

With your palm facing forward, slide your right arm down towards the middle of your right calf.
Gently start to open your torso upwards, looking at the ceiling and drawing your left shoulder back towards the wall behind you.

Take a few breaths here, allowing the muscles surrounding your hips and ribcage to relax.
Slowly start to extend your left hand toward the sky.

If that feels good, you can gently press your right arm into your right leg while simultaneously reaching back with your left arm, to open up your side body into a deeper stretch.

Take 8-10 deep breaths and then do the other side.

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Healthy Hands Stretch

Few of us ever think to stretch our hands or fingers, but they might be the most-used part of your body! Show them some love with this simple move to protect full range of motion:

  1. Hold your hand up in front of you with your fingers pointing straight up, palm flat.
  2. Curl your fingertips down to the top of your hand. Hold for a beat.
  3. Slide your fingertips down to the bottom of your palm. Hold for a beat.
  4. Now reverse the movement, in 2 distinct movements.
  5. Repeat 5-7 times on each hand.

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Thoracic Wall Stretch

You know that having tight back and shoulder muscles can cause tension or pain. But did you know it can actually restrict your breathing? In order to expand fully, your lungs depend on good mobility in your thoracic (mid-upper back) area. Here’s an awesome way to open that area up.

  1. Stand with your right side facing a wall.
  2. Reach your right arm overhead.
  3. Leaving your elbow pointing upward, drop your right hand toward the middle of your upper back.
  4. Gently lean into the wall to open your side body up into a deeper stretch.

Take 10 deep breaths while holding this position on each side.

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Kneeling Hip Rotation

Sitting tightens your hip muscles. And that can lead to lower back pain. Loosen up the major movers of your hip joints with this deliciously easy move.

Start in an upright kneeling position and extend your right leg directly to the side, with your right toes pointed forward. Extend your arms straight out in front of you, with hands clasped.

Slowly begin to rotate your torso to the right, while at the same time rotating your right hip externally – so that your toes roll up and back. At the end of the movement, your chest should be facing your right knee.

Moving very slowly, reverse the movement. Repeat 8-10 reps on each side.

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Hip Windmills

One fun, easy move that relieves tightness in the hips and lower back AND increases blood flow to the brain? Say no more!

Start standing with your legs slightly wider than hips-width. Keeping a slight bend in the knees, bend over at the hips and place your hands on the floor. Can’t reach? Bend your knees more, or place a pillow in front of you and put your hands on the pillow instead.

Place your right hand on the floor (or pillow) directly under your face and slowly sweep your left arm to the sky as you allow the torso to gently rotate along with the arm. Return to the start and repeat 8-10 reps on each side.

Do NOT rush these or swing wildly from side to side. You want controlled, gentle movements where you can feel your muscles slowly loosening and stretching.

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Pectoralis Massage

Hello! Quick favor: freeze in whatever position you’re currently in. Don’t move!

Now look down at your chest. Is it caved in a bit? Are your shoulders slightly in front of your chest muscles? If not, congrats! If yes, don’t worry, this is a position most of us find ourselves in for much of the day. It’s due to the fact that we’re always focused on things (screens!) in front of us, and we probably have our arms out in front of us too.

The downside to this position? It makes your chest muscles tight, which can lead to shoulder, back and neck pain down the road. Luckily, there’s a delightful way to loosen your chest muscles, and all you need is a tennis ball (or similar sized ball).

Holding the ball in your left hand, gently press it against the outside edge of your right pectoralis, which is basically where your armpit starts. Using gentle pressure, slowly roll the ball in small circles, feeling for any tight or “sticky” spots. This should feel good! Repeat on the other side, and you can do this several times a day if you’d like!

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Chair Thoracic Opener

It doesn’t take complicated movements to counteract our sitting-and-screen time. Here’s a favorite way to tend to upper-body tightness:

1. To start, you can either kneel in front of your chair and place your elbows on the chair seat, or sit and scoot your chair back, putting your elbows on your desk.

2. Clasp your hands together and slowly sink your chest towards your knees, allowing your head to slide between your arms.

3. Remain in this position for a few deep breaths, seeing if you can feel a gentle release across your upper body… maybe even sinking deeper towards the floor.

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Seated Thoracic Twist

Which part of your spine do you think is designed to do the most twisting?

If you guessed your lower back…. sorry! It’s the middle (thoracic) part of your spine that is meant to do more twisting. (Your lower back is designed primarily for stability.)

Trouble is, our chair- and screen-based lifestyles have left our thoracic spines super tight and locked up. Here’s the perfect way to get movement back into that area.

You can kneel on the floor or sit in a chair for this one. If you’re in a chair, make sure your knees stay pointed straight ahead throughout. Raise your arms and fold your hands behind your head, with elbows wide.

  1. Twist gently to the left, keeping your spine upright
  2. Stay twisted and slowly reach your left elbow toward the ground behind you
  3. Stay twisted while gently returning to an upright, twisted position
  4. Slowly untwist to face forward
  5. Repeat 5 times on the left side before moving to the right side
  6. See if you can feel yourself twisting further with each rep!

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Neck Flossing

Your neck works hard, all day long. So do your shoulders and chest muscles. Let’s show them some love!

1. Extend your right arm to the side and externally rotate it (inside of arm up).

2. Tip your head gently to the left and feel a nice stretch on the right side. You can just stay here and breathe if it feels good.

Want more?

3. Start slowly tipping your chin front to back, while still keeping your head tilted to the left. Do not make full circles with your head!

Try 8-10 reps on each side. As always, make it feel good.

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Finger Taps

Put your hands out in front of you, like you’re about to put them on your keyboard. Notice how they’re slightly cupped? How many times a day do you fully extend and flex your hands flat?

If you want to maintain full range of motion in your hands, here’s a simple move you can do every day:

– Hold your hands up next to your shoulders, with your palms facing forward (like you’re about to give 2 high-fives). Stretch your fingers wide.

– Now, take one finger at a time and tap it to your palm. As you do each finger, try to keep the other fingers as upright as possible.

– Work your way through each hand several times.

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Toe Lifts

Imagine living most of your life with shoes on your hands. How well would your fingers move?

Of all the muscles and bones in your body, roughly 1/4 of them are below your ankles! Constantly cramming your feet into shoes stymies their movement and can take a toll on your mobility…

Bring some life back to your feet by taking a few minutes every day to train your toes. Here’s how:

  1. Press your feet flat on the ground and try to lift your big toe – without lifting any other toes. Relax.
  2. Next, press your big toe to the ground and try lifting all the other toes – keeping your big toe on the ground. Relax.
  3. Repeat several cycles of this at least once a day.

P.S. Restoring toe mobility isn’t just about taking care of your feet. It can help alleviate pain all the way up your body: knees, hips, back, shoulders and neck…

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Chest & Shoulder Opener

It’s nearly impossible to avoid hunching your shoulders when you work at a screen. And it’s nearly impossible to avoid working at a screen!

So why not learn some moves to counteract all the hunching?

– Cross your arms over your chest and gently round your upper back.

– Slowly begin to open up your arms to a goalpost position while gently arching and lengthening the upper back, tilting your head back slightly.

– Try to get taller as you open up, so you’re expanding your vertebrae, not crunching them together.

– Return to start, crossing arms the opposite way. Repeat for as many reps as feels good.

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Wrist Remedy

Whether you spend too much time clutching a smartphone or lots of hours doing chaturangas (or both!), your forearms and wrists likely need some love. We’ve got you!

– Bring your palms together in front of your heart, like a “prayer” or “namaste” position.

– Gently push your hands together as you slightly raise your elbows, feeling a comfortable stretch.

– Keeping your wrists and elbows where they are, slowly rotate your fingers away from your body and try to point them towards the floor.

– Enjoy the stretch as you move through this rotation several times

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Foot Massage

This one feels SO good, you might find yourself doing it several times a day…

– Place a tennis ball under the pad of your foot, right between your big and second toe. Keep your heel on the floor and slowly sink your weight onto that foot. It should feel good, but never painful.

Slowly start to roll your foot right to left, so the ball is passing back and forth across the ball of your foot. Keep as much pressure as feels good. The key is to move slowly, to help loosen all the fascia and muscles down there.

– Next, you’re going to do the same thing, except moving front to back (so the ball is rolling from the ball of your foot to the heel).

– Do it for as long as feels good, and then repeat on the other side.

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Eye Exercises

The alarm goes off. You roll over to grab your phone and stare blearily at the bright screen. Ever noticed it takes your eyes a minute to focus on the glowing text? Welcome to the digital age, where we all suffer from eye strain.

If you want to protect your eyesight, there are exercises you can do to help!

The 20-20 Rule:

For every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, spend 20 seconds looking at an object 20ft away.

Simple… and super important!

Extra credit:

Look at a wall at least 8ft away from you. Pretend you’ve suddenly acquired the power to shoot lasers out of your eyes and use them to write some messages on the wall.

“Write” for 15-20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 3-4 times in a row. This is a great way to stimulate the smaller, weaker muscles of your eye.

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Jessica Ederer, JD, CPT, FNS, RYT
Pique's Head of Content & Wellness Education, is a Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, RYT, and holds a JD from UC Berkeley. After 10 years as a practicing trial lawyer, she shifted gears and has spent the past 9 years as a health coach, educator and writer. It's her passion to help people learn sustainable, effective ways to unlock their full wellness potential. When she's not teaching or writing, you can find her hiking, mountain biking, cycling, backcountry skiing, camping and drinking anywhere from 5-7 cups of tea per day.
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Jessica Ederer, JD, CPT, FNS, RYT
Jessica Ederer, JD, CPT, FNS, RYT
View author
Pique's Head of Content & Wellness Education, is a Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, RYT, and holds a JD...