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Updated: Sep 3, 2020

Sitting at a desk all day can be rough. Whether you are a student or working a desk job, spending 8 hours a day hunched over a computer can no doubt lead to discomfort and stiffness.

I deal with these types of problems in my patients quite often and they always find that the addition of a few simple exercises into their work days can make a huge difference.

The other benefit to stretching at work: it takes less time out of your busy schedule. Living in Northern Virginia, I am keen to the fact that people sometimes have very little extra time in their work week to incorporate exercise, but I never let them use that as an excuse! If you want to feel better, you will make time. Plain and simple! You have heard me say it a million times before, consistency is key!

So, here are a few EASY exercises you can do right at your desk with minimal interruption to your work flow. The perfect way to help get rid of that neck pain or mid-back stiffness.

1. Upper Trap Stretches

Relax your shoulders down then tilt your ear towards your shoulder until a gentle pull is felt. Trouble keeping your shoulders relaxed? Try holding onto the bottom of your chair. Hold 3 x 20 seconds on each side

2. Rhomboid (Mid-back) Stretch

Sit with both feet on the floor. Interlock your fingers and extend arms in front of you as you round your back and look down. You should feel the stretch between your shoulder blades. Hold 3 x 20 seconds

3. Seated Pec Stretch

While seated in chair, place both hands behind your head and pull your shoulders as far back as possible. Slightly lean back and look up at the ceiling to increase the stretch. Hold 3 x 20 seconds

4. Doorway stretches

Stand in your door way with arms at one of the 3 positions shown below. First, pull your shoulders back and down, then gently step through the doorway until stretch is felt along the front of the shoulders.

Hold 3 x 20 seconds

5. Bracing

Begin seated in a neutral spine position (The video I posted shows it lying down, but you can easily do it seated in your chair!!). Engage the abdominals by imagining bringing the belly button toward your spine without moving the pelvis or low back. You should feel your deep core contract.

Hold 5 seconds, repeat 10x.

6. Seated figure 4

Cross one leg over the other and gently push down the knee. Lean forward with a straight back until stretch is felt along the gluteals. Hold 3 x 20 seconds

7. Seated Hamstring stretch

Begin seated on the edge of your chair with one leg out straight and heel on the ground. Keeping your back straight, lean forward like you are trying to bring the belly button towards the thigh, until a stretch is felt in the back of the leg. Hold 3 x 20 seconds.

8. Y’s at the wall

Begin standing facing a blank wall with elbows bent and pinky side of hand on the wall. Slowly slide your hands overhead into a “Y” shape, keeping the thumbs facing back. As you are raising your arms, imagine bringing the tip of your shoulder blade closer to the wall, this will engage your serrates muscle and help keep your upper traps relaxed. Once at the top, lift the arms off the wall, hold for 1 second, then return to starting position. Repeat 2 x 10

9. Tennis ball massage

Sometimes stretching alone just doesn’t do the trick. That’s where the tennis (or lacrosse) ball can come in handy. You can use it to help relieve trigger points in any muscle that is bothering you. Here is a quick video explaining the proper way to do it:

10. 90/90 Hip Rotation Stretches

Try out this move to stretch hip internal and external rotation. You may not even realize you are limited here until you try these out!

My last piece of advice:

Move every 20-30 minutes. It is SO EASY to get stuck in your workflow that nothing can stop you, but this doesn’t always equate to feeling great by the end of the day. You don’t necessarily need to completely stop your work, just make an effort to at least stand up and get the blood flowing. A few suggestions to get you moving more:

  • Drink more water= more bathroom trips

  • Put your trash can (or something else important) on the other side of the room

  • Set a timer on your phone/computer

  • Put a post in note on your computer screen to remind you to stand

  • Get a sit to stand desk

  • Stand or walk around anytime you are on the phone

Are you having trouble getting through your work day because of pain?


Schedule a visit and I will walk you through ways to fix it!

Remember, your first 20 minutes are always free :-)

Not in Northern VA? Schedule a Virtual Wellness Visit instead!

We can take a look at your desk set up and discuss exercises that might be helpful during your workday.



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