Stretches You Can Do At Your Desk And Change Your Life!

Here are some fantastic stretches that you can do right at your desk. You do not even have to stand up to do them.  I have broken them down into a couple of routines that you can do at different times of the day. These stretches are dynamic and effective; there is no fluff here (except for the head roll, but it is the obligatory warm up) just really effective stretches.     

                                                                                                 Do this routine daily and change your life!


Please consult with your health care provider before beginning any new stretching or exercise routine and see the Disclaimer at the end of the article for your safety.  Also, I am taking some pictures to illustrate the stretches and will add them to this article soon.

Neck Stretches

Head Roll

To warm things up just roll your head around your shoulders, chest and back extending your neck as far as you comfortably can the entire time. Do this 3 times.  You can add shoulder rolls here as part of your warm up.


Slow, Exaggerated Yes

Bring your chin as close to your chest as you comfortably can and hold for 10 seconds, then drop your head as far back as you comfortably can and hold for 10 seconds.  You can put your hands on the top of your head for each of these end positions and gently (but firmly) pull and push to your end ranges.


Slow, Exaggerated No

Rotate your head very slowly, side to side. Rotating as far as you comfortably can and holding that position for about 10 seconds. You can put the same hand as the side you are bending towards on your chin and push towards your end range. Do this 3 times.


Ear to Shoulder (R/L)

Keeping your back as straight as possible and looking straight forward, bring your right ear to your right shoulder.  You can use your right hand on the left side of your head to pull the right ear as close to your right shoulder as you comfortably can. Then slowly come back up to center and repeat in the opposite side. 


Chin to Armpit

Look directly at your right arm pit and use your right hand on the top of your head to pull your chin down towards the arm pit as far as you comfortably can, holding the end position for about 10 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Do this about 3 times.  


Chest, Back and Arm Stretches

There are a lot of stretches for these areas, so pick the ones that you like the best and incorporate them into your daily activities.


Up, Up and Back…

Reach your arms straight up in the air, clasp your hands together, and then reach them as far back as you can safely go. Imagine you are trying to grab a doorknob on the wall behind you. Hold this for as long as comfortably possible, only repeat if you feel like you need to.


Hanging Triceps Stretch (R/L)

Reach up with one arm and try to touch your opposite shoulder blade. Then with your other arm, reach across the back of the first arm and grasp the elbow. Then pull gently, but firmly until you experience a healthy stretch in your triceps, shoulder or even side. Slowly come back to center and then repeat on opposite side.  Repeat once or twice more.


Cross Arm Triceps Stretch

Bring your right arm straight across your body and use your left forearm to pull the right arm as close to your body as comfortably possible providing a big stretch to the shoulder and parts of the rotator cuff. Slowly come back to center and then repeat on opposite side. Repeat once or twice more.


Outstretched Arm Rotations

Start with your arms stretched straight out from the shoulders, with the palms facing the floor. Then, using your shoulders only, rotate your thumbs backwards as far as you comfortably can (bringing the palms up towards the sky and maybe even further towards the wall behind you). Then rotate the thumbs forward as far as you comfortably can.  Hold these stretches at the end ranges and repeat a couple of times.


Overhead, Clasped Hand, Arm Stretch

Clasp hands in front of your chest, palms in. Rotate the hands so the palms are facing away from you. Rotate your palms outwards and upwards as you rotate your shoulders upwards as well. Keep your back straight (or arched) and do not lean backwards.


Behind the Back hand Clasped Arm Extension

Sit as far forward on your chair as possible. Clasp your hands together behind your back with the palms facing gently upwards (but not away from you). Roll your shoulders backwards, straighten your arms and lift your hands as high in the air as you comfortably can. Go back and forth between keeping your back as straight as possible and then leaning forward.


Pivoting Chest Opener (R/L)

If you have an office chair that swivels: Place your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Reach out and grab the far corner of your desk with your right hand. Then rotate to your left as far as you can and open up the chest and shoulder area.


Pectoral Presses (L/R)

Come forward on your chair. Sit up straight and place the back of your right palm in the small of your back and with the middle three fingers of your left hand push as deeply into your upper pectoral muscles (on the right side of your body) as you comfortably can for as long as you want. I like to move my neck and head around a bit when doing this. Repeat on opposite side.


Thumb and Side pull (R/L)

Place your right arm straight up in the air and stretch as high as you comfortably can. With the left arm/hand reach up and grab the right thumb. Then pull your body as far to the left as you can while making sure that you don’t rotate your spine.  Hold the position in the end range for as long as you comfortably can. Slowly come back to center and then repeat on opposite side.


Seated Spinal Twist

With your left arm grasp your right arm chair rest (If you do not have an arm rest or if you want to decrease/increase tension you can grasp your right knee, pocket, belt loop or hip). With you right arm, reach around the back of your chair and use it is an anchor to rotate your shoulders (and spine) as far as you can comfortable do so. Make sure and keep your back as straight (up and down) as possible as you rotate.


Lower Back and Hamstring Stretches

Floor Reach, Back Stretch

Sit forward on your chair. Spread your legs so your feet are outside of your hips. Lean as far forward as you comfortably can and then reach your hands between your feet and try to touch the floor with your fingertips first, then with your entire palm.


Seated Bent Crossover Stretch

Sit on the forward edge of your chair. Lean forward trying to keep your back and neck straight.  When your knees come to your chest, reach down with the right hand and grab the outside of the left foot and hold for about 10 seconds. Then pull a little more firmly, bending your elbow if comfortably possible. You can even push off on the left thigh with the left hand to get some more rotation. Slowly come back to center and repeat on the opposite side.


Seated Hamstring Stretch (L/R) (difficult)

Sit on your right ankle (cross leg style) and straighten out and lengthen your left leg out as far as comfortably possible, keeping it in contact with the floor.  Now bend forward and pretend to tie your shoe or touch your toes.  Eventually you should get a great hamstring stretch.


Joe Lavin LMP, CPT



I do not claim to be any kind of expert on stretching, anatomy, physiology, or any other biological science. I am merely attempting to compile information that I have read in books or that has been presented to me by knowledgeable sources and that I have found helpful.


The techniques, ideas, and suggestions in this document are not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice! Consult your physician or health care professional before performing any new exercise or exercise technique, particularly if you are pregnant or nursing, or if you are elderly, or if you have any chronic or recurring conditions. Any application of the techniques, ideas, and suggestions in this document is at the reader's sole discretion and risk.


In other words: "I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV!" I cannot be held liable for any damages or injuries that you might suffer from somehow relying upon information in this document, no matter how awful. Not even if the information in question is incorrect or inaccurate. If you have any doubt (and even if you don't) you should always check with your doctor before trying any new exercise or exercise technique.


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