7 Desk Stretches To Try At Work

Woman in an office stretches her arms and neck while seated in her desk chair.
Written by Robert Barry
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3 minutes

It’s no surprise that regular movement, exercise, and stretching contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Sitting most of the day at work can cause stiffness and pain, but research shows that an overly sedentary lifestyle (especially in an office environment) can increase the risk for cardiovascular issues, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and musculoskeletal disorders.1 Fortunately, getting more movement into your workday doesn’t have to be time-consuming or challenging. We’ve compiled 7 stretches you can practice daily - right from your desk!

Read More: Sitting May Be As Bad As Smoking

Desk Stretches For People Who Sit Most Of The Day

1. Classic Tricep Stretch

  1. Raise your right arm and bend it behind you so your right hand is touching your back or neck
  2. Clasp your right elbow with your left hand
  3. Gently pull your right elbow toward your head
  4. Hold for 10-30 seconds
  5. Repeat on the other side
Woman in pink sports top stretches her tricep

2. Side Stretch

  1. Extend your right arm overhead
  2. Place your left arm by your side
  3. Reach your right hand to the left, creating a crescent-shaped curve from your hip to your hand
  4. Hold for 10-30 seconds
  5. Repeat on the other side
Woman in grey workout clothes stretches her side while seated in a chair

3. Chest Stretch

  1. Put your arms behind your back
  2. Clasp your hands or hold onto the back of your chair
  3. Push your chest outward, gently raising the chin
  4. Hold for 10-30 seconds
  5. If sitting, try standing and repeat.
Woman at the gym stretches her chest with her arms extended and hands clasped behind her

4. Trunk Rotation

  1. Keep your feet firmly on the ground, facing forward
  2. Put your right hand on your left knee and gently twist your torso to the left (your upper body should match the image, even if you’re seated at your desk chair)
  3. Hold for 10-30 seconds
  4. Repeat on the other side
Woman in workout clothes is seated on the ground with legs outstretched and twists her upper body to stretch her torso

5. Hamstring Stretch

  1. Remaining seated, extend one leg outward in front of you, and keep one leg bent at a 90° degree angle
  2. Reach toward your toes
  3. Hold for 10-30 seconds
  4. Repeat on the other side
  5. For a deeper stretch, try with both legs extended.
Man sits at the edge of his office chair and reaches his hands out to touch his toes with legs extended

6. Shoulder shrug

  1. Raise both shoulders to the ears
  2. Drop them slowly to feel your neck and shoulders release tension
  3. Repeat several times
Woman seated at a laptop with eyes closed in meditative focus

7. Neck Stretch

  1. Relax and lean your head forward
  2. Slowly roll to the right side and hold for 10 seconds
  3. Repeat on the other side
Woman in a sports top stretches her neck with eyes closed

Related: 30 Minute At Home Full Body Exercise (No Equipment Required)

To help you remember to move during your workday, set a daily alarm to remind you to stretch, block off some time during your lunch hour, or get some movement in between every meeting. As with any new workout routine, start stretching slowly, don’t force any movement, and stop if you feel any pain. As you gain flexibility, you can deepen your stretches to improve your flexibility even more.

Written by:

Robert Barry


Robert Barry, Ph.D is the Director of Scientific Affairs for Kaneka Nutrients. He focuses on clinical research development and collaboration, as well as the development of the technical, business and commercial translation of products and technology for Kaneka Nutrients, Kaneka QHTM (Ubiquinol) and other health-related products.

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