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Sitting down at a desk all day, be it at home or in the office, can put strain on your muscles and back. Poor posture and uncomfortable office chairs, along with a lack of movement, can worsen this soreness. 

Luckily, there are exercises and steps you can follow to stretch out those neck and shoulder muscles from your desk. Each exercise is simple to do and can be done while sitting in your desk chair.

How often should you stretch when working at a desk?

You should stretch for five to ten minutes every hour when working behind a desk. 

You may think that this is a lot, especially as it can make up almost an hour of an eight-hour shift. However, stretching and relaxing your muscles is incredibly beneficial for your productivity. Keeping your blood flowing and your muscles loose can lead to a better mood and better concentration.

Stretches to do at work every day

If you have ever wondered how to stretch at your desk, we’re here to help. We’ve compiled a list of the top recommended desk exercises to ease tension in your body. 

You can do all these office stretches while sitting down; simply push yourself slightly away from your desk and relax. Don’t forget to keep your breathing steady throughout each exercise.

Seated spinal rotation

  1. Cross your arms over your chest.

  2. Hold your shoulders.

  3. Turn your upper body, rotating gently from the waist. Turn from left to right as far as you’re able.

  4. Hold each turn for 3 - 5 seconds and repeat the stretch 3 - 5 times. 

As you stretch, you should experience tension in both sides of your lower back.

Posterior shoulder stretch

  1. Hold one arm across your torso, as horizontally as you can. 

  2. Hold the elbow at your torso with your free hand and pull it towards your chest.

  3. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat with the other arm.

You should feel your shoulder stretching gently.

Shoulder shrugs

  1. Bring your shoulders up as if shrugging then slowly roll them backwards.

  2. Let them fall back down slowly.

  3. Repeat this exercise 5 - 6 times.

You should feel a release of tension with every shoulder drop.

Tricep stretches

  1. Raise your arm and bend it backwards, then reach towards your opposite shoulder blade with your hand.

  2. Use your free hand to hold your bent elbow and gently pull it towards your head.

  3. Hold this stretch for 10 - 30 seconds then repeat on the other side.

You should feel the stretch along the back of your arm.

Overhead latissimus stretch

  1. Extend your arm straight above your head.

  2. Reach over to the side and lean your torso with it.

  3. Hold this stretch for 10 - 30 seconds then repeat on the other side.

You should feel the stretch down the other side of your torso.

Back extensions

  1. Plant your feet together, firmly on the floor.

  2. Reach around and put your palms on the lower part of your back.

  3. Lean back over your hands.

  4. Hold the position until you feel the stretch.

  5. Repeat this exercise 3 - 5 times.

You should feel your lower back gently stretching.

Neck rotations

  1. Keep your head upright and gently turn it from left to right.

  2. With each turn, try to move your head past your shoulder.

  3. Hold the stretch for 3 - 5 seconds and repeat 3 - 5 times.

You should feel your neck muscles stretching with each turn.

Neck rolls

  1. Relax your body and gently lean your head forward.

  2. Carefully roll your head from side to side, holding for 10 seconds on each side.

  3. Repeat this exercise 3 times for both directions.

You should feel the muscles in your upper shoulders and neck stretching when doing this exercise.

Backward shoulder and pectoralis stretch

  1. Stretch your arms behind you and clasp your hands together.

  2. Gently lift your arms and clasped hands.

  3. Push your chest slightly outwards and lift your chin.

  4. Hold this position for 5 - 10 seconds and repeat 3 - 5 times.

You should feel the release of pressure in your shoulders.

Overhead shoulder extension

  1. Hold both of your arms straight up above your head.

  2. Link your fingers so that your palms face upwards.

  3. Reach as high as possible, and hold the position for 3 - 5 seconds.

  4. Repeat this exercise 3 - 5 times.

You should feel the stretch across your shoulders.

Still sore? Invest in an ergonomic desk chair

If you regularly do desk stretches and find nothing is helping with muscle tension, it may be time for a new chair. If you don’t use an ergonomic chair, you may find that stiffness and soreness persists as your body is not properly supported. 

As industry experts, we recommend any of the Herman Miller Aeron Chairs which have been designed for optimal comfort, support and alignment.

Interested in learning more about our range of ergonomic chairs, and which one might be right for you or your staff? Take a look through our website, or email us on with any questions you have about the best furniture for your office

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