12 Desk Stretches to Increase Flexibility

Try the "look up" stretch to release tension in your back and shoulders. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Try the “look up” stretch to release tension in your back and shoulders. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Desk job? No worries. Do these stretches daily to avoid back pain and increase flexibility and energy (via WebMD):

  1. Try the no-hands stand and sit. Try a few rounds of standing and sitting without using your hands for balance. This increases your core strength.
  2. Sit on an exercise ball. Trading your regular desk chair for an exercise ball engages your entire body as it uses its muscles to keep you balanced.
  3. Shrug your shoulders. This release tension in your neck and shoulders. Inhale deeply and shrug your shoulders, lifting them high up to your ears. Hold. Release, exhale and drop. Repeat three times.
  4. Make air circles. Clench your fists, stretching both hands out in front of you. Make circles in the air, first in one direction, to the count of 10, then reverse the circles for 10 more counts. Shake out the hands.
  5. Point your fingers. This is good for your arms, wrists and forearms, which can hold tension during long periods of typing. Stretch your left hand out in front of you, pointing fingers toward the floor. Use your right hand to increase the stretch, gently pushing your fingers down and toward the body. Do the same with the other hand. Next, stretch your left hand out straight in front, wrist bent, with fingers pointing skyward. Use your right hand to increase the stretch, pulling the fingers back toward your body. Do the same on the other side.
  6. Twist your torso. This releases tension in your entire upper body. Inhale and as you exhale, turn to the right and grab the back of your chair with your right hand, and grab the arm of the chair with your left. With eyes level, use your grasp on the chair to help twist your torso around as far to the back of the room as possible. Hold the twist, then slowly come back to facing forward. Repeat on the other side.
  7. Do leg extensions. These work your legs and your abdominal muscles. 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, then release and repeat.
  8. Give yourself a hug. Hug your body, placing the right hand on your left shoulder and the left hand on your right shoulder. Breathe in and out, releasing the area between your shoulder blades.
  9. Cross your arms. To stretch your shoulders and upper back, extend one arm out straight in front of you. With the other hand, grab the elbow of the outstretched arm and pull it across your chest, stretching your shoulder and upper back muscles. Hold. Release. Then stretch out the other arm in front of you. Repeat.
  10. Give yourself a “leg hug.” To release tight shoulders and back, sit on the edge of your chair. If it has wheels, wedge the chair against the desk or wall to make sure it does not roll. Put your feet together, flat on the floor, then lean over, chest to knees, letting your arms dangle loosely to the floor. Release your neck. Bring your hands behind your legs, right hand grasping left wrist, forearm (or elbow if you can reach that far), left hand grasping the right. Feel the stretch in your back, shoulders and neck. Hold. Release your hands to the floor again, and repeat three times.
  11. Look up. To release your 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, then release.
  12. Walk instead of email–and don’t eat at your desk. Instead of dashing off an email to an office colleague, walk over to the person you want to talk to. And instead of eating at your desk, walk around the block before you eat, or walk to a local sandwich place. The more steps you can get in throughout the course of your day, the better. They do add up!



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