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Work. Stress. Stretch.

When we are caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday work and stress, we oftentimes find ourselves stuck at our desks sitting for prolonged amounts of time. It has been proven that sitting and staying in the same position, along with poor posture, can cause or worsen musculoskeletal disorders. Additionally, research has also proven that non-active sitting (sitting still) for long periods of time is linked to greater risks of weight gain, heart disease, and an earlier demise.

However, for those who sat at their desks and continuously kept fidgeting completely avoided any increased health risks! So, when you find yourself stuck at your desk, don’t forget to take a breath, move around, relax, and stretch! Here are a few stretches you can try at the comfort of your own desk. Stretching can help increase blood flow to the muscles, improve flexibility and range of motion of your joints, reduce the risk of injuries and stress, and increase energy.

Head and Shoulder Stretches

Shoulder Shrug

1. Raise both shoulders at once up toward the ears.

2. Drop them and repeat 10 times.

Neck Stretches

1. Relax and lean your head forward.

2. Slowly roll toward one side and hold for 10 seconds.

3. Repeat on other side.

4. Relax again and lift your chin back to starting position.

5. Do this three times for each direction.

Upper Trap Stretch

1. Gently pull your head toward one shoulder until a light stretch is felt.

2. Hold the pose for 10 to 15 seconds.

3. Alternate once on each side.

Upper Body Stretches

Shoulder, or Pectoralis Stretch

1. Clasp hands behind your back.

2. Push the chest outward, and raise the chin.

3. Hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds.

Forward Stretch: This stretch is also known as the rhomboid upper or upper back stretch.

1. Clasp your hands in front of you and lower your head in line with your arms.

2. Press forward and hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

Torso Stretch, or Trunk Rotation

1. Keep your feet firmly on the ground, facing forward. Place one hand on the back of your chair.

2. Twist your upper body in the direction of the arm that’s resting on the back of your chair.

3. Hold pose for 10 to 30 seconds.

4. Repeat on other side.

Tip: Exhale as you lean into the stretch for a greater range of motion.

Arm Stretches

Triceps Stretches

1. Raise your arm and bend it so that your hand reaches toward your back.

2. Use your other hand and pull the elbow toward your head.

3. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

4. Repeat on the other side.

Overhead Reach, or Latissimus Stretch

1. Extend one arm overhead.

2. Reach to the opposite side.

3. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

4. Repeat on the other side.

Upper Body and Arm Stretch

1. Clasp hands together above the head with palms facing outward.

2. Push your arms up, stretching upward.

3. Hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds.

Lower Body Stretches

Hip and Knee Flexion Stretch

1. Hug one knee at a time, pulling it toward your chest.

2. Hold the pose for 10 to 30 seconds.

3. Alternate.

Hamstrings Stretch

1. Remaining seated, extend one leg outward.

2. Reach toward your toes.

3. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

4. Repeat on the other side.

Be sure to do this one leg at a time, as doing this exercise with both legs out can put extra stress on the back.

Original Article Date: April 27, 2017 by Raeciel DeCastro

Updated Article Date: January 29, 2024, by Alex Gawel


Woletz, T. & Choi, S.D. (2010) Do Stretching Programs Prevent Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders? Retrieved from:

Hagger-Johnson, Gareth et al. (2016). Sitting Time, Fidgeting, and All-Cause Mortality in the UK Women’s Cohort Study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

Stretch descriptions provided by &

About the Author:

Raeciel DeCastro graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in Kinesiology. She is the Program Manager at Polycom in San Jose, California, where she manages and designs health and fitness programs for Polycom and other in-house companies. She is an avid volleyball player and participates in local adult leagues and tournaments. She enjoys spending time with her fiancé and currently planning their wedding for the coming fall.

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