The Best Stretches to Do at Your Desk

By  //  August 15, 2021

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Nobody is completely safe from the risk of developing a work-related health condition, including people who work in offices. Staying in the same position for hours, suboptimal posture, and repetitive motions can cause or exacerbate musculoskeletal conditions.

People who have desk jobs are at higher risk because that’s exactly what these jobs entail. Desk habits can result or contribute to issues such as neck and shoulder pain, obesity, stress, carpal tunnel syndrome, or lower back pain, especially if you sit for prolonged periods of time.

Simultaneously, it’s no good engaging in an exercise routine at work. Your boss would hardly condone it during office hours. A smart middle route to go is a series of simple, quick stretches to do at your desk when you’re pressed for time. Keep scrolling to learn more. 

Seated Rotation 

This stretch involves rotating your spine while seated. Cross your arms and hold your shoulders. Then, slowly turn the torso without twisting the waist. Turn gently from right to left or vice versa. As your lower back stretches, there should be slight tension on both sides of it. 

Shoulder Shrugs

Raise your shoulders gently and let them fall. As they drop, you should experience a release of tension. One variation of this exercise is the posterior shoulder stretch. 

Back Extensions

Put your feet next to each other and sit up straight. Place your palms on the small of your back. Then, lean back. You should feel relief in your lower back where there was tension before.

Neck and Shoulder Stretch

Sit on your right hand and turn your head to the left. Then, move your head forward in the direction of your shoulder. This should stretch the muscles in your shoulder and neck. Then, sit on your left hand and turn your head right. Repeat.

Neck Rotation

Turn your head slowly from side to side, keeping it upright. Try to move it past the shoulder as you turn. This exercise works the muscles on the side of the neck. 

Overhead Reach

Raise your left arm up and reach to the right. Hold for 20 seconds, then repeat on the left side. 

Upper Body Stretch

Palms facing away from you, clasp your hands above your head and stretch upward. Remain in this position for about 20 seconds.

Forward Stretch

Also known as the upper back or rhomboid stretch, this is where you clasp your hands in front of your face, then bring your head down. Your arms and head should be in a straight line. You can watch an instructional video if you’re not sure you’re doing this or any other stretching exercise correctly. There are some helpful ones at

Shoulder Extensions

There are two types of shoulder extensions you can do. For the first, stand up and stretch your arms out behind you. Lift your arms slowly, holding your hands. This exercise is great for the chest and shoulders, as the name suggests. For the second kind of shoulder extension, clasp your hands with palms facing up and hold your arms above your head. Try to reach as high as you can. 

Trunk Rotation 

This one is similar to the seated spine rotation except for this time, one of your arms is on the back of your chair. Face forward and keep your feet flat on the floor. If your left arm is on the back, rotate the trunk left. Hold the position for 20 seconds, switch arms, and repeat. As you lean in, breathe out. This helps extend your motion range.  


Extend one leg without standing up and reach forward. Stay in this position for 20 seconds, then repeat the exercise with the other leg. Don’t do it with both legs forward. 

Knee and Hip Flexion 

Hug your left knee and pull it in toward your chest. Hold 20 seconds, then repeat with the right.

Other Tips 

Doing stretches at your desk isn’t as important as sitting comfortably, to begin with. Your screen should be about an arm’s length away, and your eyes should be level with the top. Your chair should be close to your desk. Everything you need must be within reach. If it’s not, rearrange the items on your desk so that it is. Even the best chair won’t provide sufficient back support if you have to keep leaning across your desk.