Couch Stretches to Try! – Women Fitness


Spending too much time sitting or lying on the couch can cause more pain than relaxation. First, there’s the fact that your body won’t be supported correctly while you’re slumped in the cushions. Then there’s the fact that sitting for too long causes the supporting muscles around the spine and pelvis to deactivate, which leads to chronic back pain. HSS Brooklyn rehabilitation and performance expert Asma Mohammadi has shared her expert input.

 Stretches to do while Sitting on a Couch

Chin Tuck:

This strengthens the deep neck flexor muscles.

  • Sit up tall on the couch and plant your feet flat on the floor.
  • Make sure your head is aligned with your spine and centered over your shoulders, looking straight ahead. Your head should not protrude forward.
  • Keeping your head level (not tilted up or down) and the front neck muscles relaxed, gently glide your chin and head straight back with a small movement. Make sure your head and chin stay level. You should feel the muscles at the base of the neck working. Since this is a muscle contraction, you will not feel a stretch with this movement.
  • Hold for five seconds.
  • Return to the neutral position.
  • Repeat a total of 10 times.

Neck Stretch:

This stretches the levator scapulae, which starts at the top of the shoulder blade and goes to the top of the neck.

  • Sit up tall at the edge of the couch and plant your feet flat on the floor.
  • Bring the left arm behind you and rest it on the couch.
  • Rotate your head to the right side.
  • Place your right hand on the back of your scalp (at the top of your neck).
  • Gently lower your head down as if looking at your right hip. Don’t pull with your hand; only use it as support.
  • You should feel a gentle stretch along the left side of the neck and left upper shoulder area.
  • Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. Bring your right hand down and return your head to a neutral position.
  • Bring the right arm behind you and rest it on the couch.
  • Rotate your head to the left, repeating the stretch on the left side.
  • Repeat for a total of two to three sets on each side.

Mid-Back Extension:

This stretches the thoracic spine, which is the upper/middle part of your spine.

  • Sit at the edge of the couch and plant your feet flat on the floor.
  • Clasp your hands on the back of your neck of front for support and bring your elbows forward.
  • Extend with your upper back as you point your elbows toward the ceiling, arching through the mid-back.
  • Make sure your neck stays in neutral and doesn’t extend forward or pull back while allowing your gaze to follow your elbow.
  • Return to a neutral position.
  • Repeat for a total of 10 times.

Shoulder Blade Roll:

This stretch helps loosen tight shoulders.

  • Sit up tall on the couch and plant your feet flat on the floor.
  • Make sure your arms are relaxed at your sides.
  • Bring your shoulder blades up, then back, then down, then forward in a rolling position, until you’re back to where you started.
  • Continue rolling your shoulder blades for a total of 10 times.
  • Repeat the exercise going the opposite way (bringing your shoulder blades back first, then up, then forward, etc.) for a total of 10 times.

Pelvic Tilt:

This moves the lower lumbar spine.

  • Sit at the edge of the couch and plant your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place your hands on your hips.
  • Gently tilt your pelvis forward, feeling a slight arch in your back.
  • Gently tilt your pelvis backward, feeling a slight rounding of your back. Your abdominals may help control the movement.
  • Repeat for a total of 10 to 15 times. Tip: Think of this as a sitting cat/cow of the lower lumbar spine.

Ankle Circles:

This helps with the range of motion in the ankles.

  • Sit comfortably on the couch with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Lift your right foot.
  • Move your ankle in a clockwise circle.
  • Go all the way around about 10 times, making sure you’re turning your ankle in all directions.
  • Switch directions for 10 circles.
  • Put your right foot back on the floor.
  • Lift your left foot and repeat the exercise 10 times in each direction with the left ankle.
  • Repeat on each side two to three times.⁣ 

Butterfly Pose:

This pose stretches out your hips and lower back. As you lengthen your spine, relax and extend your arms out in front of you for more of a stretch.

  • Sit straight on the couch with your spine long. Bend both knees so that you can bring the soles of your feet together.
  • Stay right here, or reach your hands around your feet as you hinge at your hips and fold, bringing your torso over your legs.
  • You can also extend your hands long as your hips become more flexible. Hold for 30 seconds.


  • As you stretch, make sure you’re breathing properly and paying attention to your posture.
  • Don’t slouch; sit in an upright posture to allow your diaphragm to function optimally, which enables better lung expansion and breathing.
  • Throughout the stretches, gently lengthen the muscles you’re working but don’t overextend.
  • While you may feel a stretch, you should never feel pain.

The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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