While you're anchored at your desk daydreaming about that marathon or mud run, sneak in a little extra training with simple stretches. "Runner's World" magazine reports that the number of women runners is up every year -- in 2012, more than 4 million women put in the miles at least 110 days out of 365. Don't let hunching over a keyboard and sitting all day tighten your muscles. Stay in top racing form by stretching at your desk.
Help for Hamstrings
Sit at your desk long enough and your hip flexors shorten and hamstrings tighten. A pulled hamstring will sideline you for a season, so give yours some attention every day to keep them long and limber. Brace your chair so it doesn't slide and extend your legs, tensing your quads, not your knees, to keep legs straight. Flex your feet and rest on your heels as you bring a straight back forward and try to rest your front torso on your thighs. Help the stretch along by sliding your hands down your shins toward your toes. Hold for 15 seconds, come back up with control and repeat three to five times.
Wing It -- Arms and Shoulders
Work your wings to keep those arms and shoulders from seizing up and to open your chest so you breathe better. The Mayo Clinic suggests a few desk stretches you can slip in before coffee breaks to release tension and boost energy. Start by cupping your elbow with one hand, lifting the elbow and stretching it across your chest while keeping your torso stable. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds as you feel your tight shoulder loosen. Then switch sides. Target shoulders and upper arms by placing one hand in the center of your back just under your neck. Cross the other hand over your head to increase the stretch by pushing gently on your bent elbow. Do both sides. Open your chest by putting your hands behind your head and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
Quads and Calves
Stand up and place one hand on the edge of your desk for balance. Grab your right ankle with your left hand, holding it behind your back as you contract your abs, tuck your tailbone under and hold your back straight. Keep the thigh, from hip to knee, parallel to your other leg to protect your knee. Hold the stretch for about 15 seconds as you feel the burn in your quads, then switch sides. A stealth move to stretch calves is to flex your foot, keeping the heel on the ground and your toes pressed firmly against the wall. If your calves are tight -- a runner's lament -- this one is tough. Hold it for just 10 seconds and switch legs.
Give your spine a twist to keep it limber while never getting up from your chair. "Yoga Journal" says this one will soothe your aching back and unkink all your tight torso muscles. Move up to the front of the chair, shift your thighs to the right but keep your torso facing front. Breathe in and raise your right arm straight up, then breathe out and grab the back of the chair on the opposite side with your right hand. Place your left hand on your right knee as you breathe in again and feel your spine grow longer. Exhale and twist to your right as you press your right hand against the chair back for extra leverage. Consciously drop your shoulders and expand your lungs into your ribcage on each breath. Keep twisting a bit more each time as you take 10 to 15 breaths in the twist and then switch sides.
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .