5 Easy Stretching Exercises at Your Desk-

5 Easy Stretching Exercises at Your Desk

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Brunilda Nazario, MD

Try these stretching exercises at your desk… or anywhere else… to ease back pain and boost energy.

You may feel awkward doing stretching exercises at your desk. But right now, as you sit there at your computer, you are doing one of the worst things you can do to your body — you’re sitting still. And not only that, but the way you sit — and type, and hold the phone — may be wreaking havoc on your bones, joints, and muscles.

People who sit at their computers for hours every day — they’re in for serious medical problems. We’re seeing more things than carpal tunnel; those pains go up the arm to the elbow and shoulder and then translate to the neck and back. It’s a huge problem.

Dr. Sharon Hame, MD, associate Clinical Professor at UCLA’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

In addition to carpal tunnel and other traditional ergonomic issues, new problems are cropping up, Hame says.

I saw a woman yesterday who had tennis elbow. She got it at work from the way she answered the phone and worked at the computer.

Dr. Shanon Hame

The solution, experts say, is to break up your work by doing stretching exercises at your desk.

Aches and pains, not to mention the weight gain that can result from hunching over your desk all day, are just the beginning. “People shouldn’t be complacent about moving just because they’re not obese. There are a lot of skinny people who, because they don’t exercise for strength and balance, are osteoporotic fractures waiting to happen.

Dr. Angela Smith, MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and former President of the American College of Sports Medicine

So what can you do to ward off pain and stiffness and boost your energy and alertness? WebMD consulted orthopaedic surgeons and exercise specialists for simple stretching exercises at your desk that will release tension from head to toe. They take only a few minutes. Set the alarm on your cell phone or computer to go off every hour to remind you it’s time to get up and stretch.

Just stand up and sit down — no hands

You might have gotten a gold star in preschool for sitting still, but it just goes to show you (best sellers notwithstanding) that not all of us learned everything we need to know in kindergarten. “If you stand up and sit down (over and over) — without using your hands — it can be a challenge,” says Smith. “Do it while you’re on the phone; no one will know.”

Shrug your shoulders — to release the neck and shoulders

Inhale deeply and shrug your shoulders, lifting them high up to your ears. Hold. Release and drop. Repeat three times.

Shake your head slowly, yes and no. You might as well amuse yourself while you do it to relax even further. Ask yourself silly questions: “Is your boss an idiot?” Move your head up and down, “Yes, yes, yes.” Side to side: “No. No. No.” (Shedding tension is as much mental as physical).

Loosen the hands with air circles

  • clench both fists, stretching both hands out in front of you.
  • make circles in the air, first in one direction, to the count of ten.
  • then reverse the circles.
  • shake out the hands.

Do leg extensions — work the abs and legs

  • grab the seat of your chair to brace yourself and extend your legs straight out in front of you so they are parallel to the floor.
  • flex and point your toes five times. Release.
  • repeat.

Look up to release upper body

  • sit up tall in your chair, or stand up. Stretch your arms overhead and interlock your fingers.
  • turn the palms to the ceiling as you lift your chin up, tilt your head back, and gaze up at the ceiling, too.
  • inhale, exhale, release.

Instead of a lunch meeting at your desk, walk together to a neighborhood sandwich shop. “Talk while you walk — it’s more efficient and productive,” Smith says. “You’re getting more oxygen to the brain, you have no distractions, and you’re more likely to remember what is said.”

5 Easy Stretching Exercises at Your Desk
and stretch some more…


WebMD article Stretching Exercises at Your Desk: 12 Simple Tips, by Susan Seliger and reviewed by Dr. Brunilda Nazario, MD

Photos on Unsplash by:

D.S. Chapman
Karsten Winegeart


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