Desk Fitness: A Series of 11 Simple Stretches

I spend an ungodly amount of time at my desk, staring at my large screen iMac. My body gets stiff, and sometimes numb. To help my muscles out, I frequently stretch at my desk. It not only makes my body feel better, but it gives my mind a break.

If you’re like me your shoulders creep up to your earlobes with stress during the day. I hold all of my stress in my upper back and neck. And while I prefer a massage, I can’t get one every day. But this series of simple stretches help, and I can do them in the comfort of my own office chair. Why not give them a try yourself?

1. Chin Tuck

To loosen stiff neck and shoulder muscles, drop your chin to your chest and stretch. I also like to roll my head from side to side to stretch the side of my neck and the backs of my shoulders. Take some time to relax and do this stretch—it feels so good.

2. Side Neck Stretch

You can also stretch your neck muscles by simply turning your head from side to side. It might sound simple (and it is) but if you think about how much of our day is spent facing straight forward at our computer screens, turning your head from side to side every so often doesn’t sound so weird. You can also stretch your neck by tilting your head from side to side from a face-forward starting position. Do your ears touch your shoulders?

3. Shoulder Stretch

This is another good shoulder stretch for you to try. You’re going to place one hand on the elbow of your other arm and pull it across the front of your body. Keep your back straight and face forward. Hopefully this will loosen your muscles and make your arms feel longer.

Sometimes I feel myself slouching at my desk. My legs are crossed and it feels like my chest has caved in on itself. Gotta stretch that, too!

4. Chest Stretch

Put your hands behind your head and point your elbows to the side. Feel a stretch by pushing your elbows as far behind you as possible, squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Maybe you hold your stress in your lower back instead of your shoulders. A good office chair with lumbar support can help, but if you don’t have one (or it’s not enough) try stretching.

5. Lower Back Stretch

All you have to do is sit forward in your chair and bring one of your knees towards your chest at a time. Use your hands to grab the back of your knee and pull towards you. Be sure to keep your back straight.

6. Back and Side Stretch


You can do this one standing up or sitting down. Interlace your fingers and lift your arms straight up over your head. Slowly bend side to side, feeling the stretch.

7. Seated Spinal Twist

Sit sideways in your chair for this one. Put both feet flat on the floor and, while holding the back of the chair, twist. Turn the chair around to repeat. If you hear cracking in your back, congratulations! If not, that’s ok too. Not everyone’s bones and joints need to make noise.

If you type as much as I do you either have carpal tunnel syndrome or strong arm muscles. Sometimes I don’t even realize how tight my forearms get during the day.

8. Forearm Stretch

Stretch your arm out in front of you with your hand turned down, fingers pointed towards the floor. Use your other hand to gently pull the fingers towards your body.

And if you sit as much as I do during the day, your hips probably feel cramped and closed up.

9. Seated Hip Stretch

I love this stretch because it’s so simple yet makes such a difference. While sitting, cross one ankle over the knee on the other leg. Sit up tall and gently lean forward. You should feel a stretch in your glute and hip. Want a deeper stretch? Push down on the hanging knee. Oh yeaaaaaah.

10. Cat-Cow Stretch

Put both feet flat on the floor and put your hands on your knees. On your inhale, arch your back and look at the ceiling. On the exhale, round your spine and let your head drop forward, your chin to your chest. Repeat until you are satisfied.

11. Seated Forward Bend

This is a nice rush of blood to the head. Push your chair away from your desk to avoid giving yourself a concussion. Put both feet flat on the floor, interlace your fingers behind your back and straighten out your arms while folding at the waist. Bring the hands over your back and stretch. Rest your chin on your thighs and release your back. Don’t forget to breathe!

Do you have any other desk exercises that you do? Let us know in the comments.


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Melanie Brooks has written for newspapers, magazines, blogs, and websites from Maine to New Jersey. She currently works as an editor for Bangor Metro and Maine Ahead magazines.


  1. Luis on the 1st April

    Awesome article, I love the way you explained it. Is very important to stretch and God knows that we all need to stretch a little while working at our desks to prevent muscle fatigue. Great job.

  2. Heidi, seed paper on the 2nd April

    Fantastic article, thanks. I’ve shared it with everyone in my office. We’ve been looking for a quick set of stretches and this is the perfect routine. ~Heidi

  3. Ella | The Office Escape on the 5th April

    I’ve shared this article on our fan page. Awesome tips. I just finished doing all of the stretches just a few minutes ago and I already feel great! I just found your blog and will definitely keep coming back 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  4. Fire Dancer on the 22nd May

    Thank you so much for these. While stretching it also helps me wake up!

  5. Chiropractor Freehold NJ on the 25th July

    Great article with basic stretching all workers should make part of their work schedule. Sedentary jobs lead to many neck and back problems. People need to stretch more often. If you have any pets, you will notice the first thing they do when they wake up is a little stretching. It goes a long way to prevent long term problems.

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