Stretches for your desk

Posted: Mar 18 2021

Do you spend your days at work sitting at a desk? If so, you are not alone. Almost half of us spend the majority of our workday sitting down1, and that can lead to poor posture, as well as strains and tightness across our muscles.

Ergonomics, that is how your work station is set up, is important in reducing or minimising office injuries. Regular breaks, and interruptions from your sitting position are also beneficial.

Jamie Barianos, Physiotherapist from PhysioEdge at Mile End recommends paying particular attention to your posture when you are sitting at your desk.

“Your shoulders should be relaxed, shoulder blades slightly back and down towards your bottom, with your chin slightly tucked in and a slight curve in your lower back so you are not slouching,” Jamie says.

Some handy hints to improve your posture are:

  • make sure your desk and screen are set at the correct height
  • keep your mouse within easy reach; and
  • use a footstool if your feet don’t touch the ground.

Jamie says there are other factors that can also affect our posture, “Noise, lighting, room temperature and cabling or hazards can also affect the way we hold our bodies.”

Stretch it out

Below are some easy stretches that you can perform throughout the day to keep your body limber and injury free. Each of these exercises should be repeated three times, feeling a comfortable stretch, holding each for up to 15-20 seconds. Ideally you should perform these exercises every 1-2 hours.

Head and Neck

  • Gently twist your head from looking left, to looking right, and back again.
  • Tilt your head each way – bringing your left ear to your left shoulder, then your right ear to your right shoulder.
  • Sitting upright and looking ahead, place a finger on your chin. Without moving your finger, pull your chin and head straight back until a good stretch is felt at the base of the head and top of the neck (there should now be some separation between the chin and the finger).

Back and shoulder

  • Sitting at your chair, twist your upper body around to the left so you are looking to the left, and slightly behind. Repeat on opposite side.
  • Looking forward, rotate your shoulders, bringing them up and backwards in a circular motion. Repeat in a forward motion.

Stretches for standing desks

Jamie says nowadays a lot more people are utilising sit-stand desks. “These are a great way to reduce the amount of sitting we do, but it’s still a good idea to stretch your body out every 1-2 hours.”

  • Placing your thumbs on your waist, bend backwards.
  • With legs placed shoulder width apart, squat down and come back up again gently.
  • Standing with two feet flat on the ground, gently raise your heels until they come off the floor.
  • Gently lift your left leg out to the side and then lower back into the original position. Repeat on the right side.
  • Standing straight, bend and lift your left knee up to chest height. Place it back into the original position and then repeat on other side.

After work

A great way to help relieve stress or reduce injury after sitting for most of the day at work is to go for a 20-minute walk at least three times per week.

“You could also engage in some other physical activity such as going to the gym, doing yoga, Pilates or a sport,” Jamie says. “These can help general fitness, blood flow and wellbeing. It also encourages movement which we don’t achieve when sitting at the desk most of the day.”

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Posted: Mar 18 2021


The information contained here is of a general nature and does not take into account your personal medical situation. The information is not a substitute for independent professional medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or used for therapeutic purposes. Should you require specific medical information, please seek advice from your healthcare practitioner. Health Partners does not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information provided. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them.

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