5 Quick Desk Stretches to do at Work

Woman stretching at desk at Oakville's Palermo Physiotherapy and Wellness to prevent injury and pain.


As you sit at your desk and read this you might be thinking to yourself, “I am doing one of the easiest things that I can do, sitting!” WRONG! Sitting still for long periods of time is one of the worst things you can do for your body. At our Oakville Physio, Massage and Foot Care (Chiropody) clinic, we see many people who work sedentary desk jobs and even students are reporting neck, shoulder and low back pain. This can be attributed to the positions they sit in, the way they answer the phone and just the fact that they are sitting down for long periods of time with no break in between. Our bodies are made to move!

Oakville Physio clinic showing neck pain, to help pain relief and increase function
Move at your desk! Don’t let your work be a pain in your neck!

Based on the response we hear from many people at our North Oakville clinic where people come for Physio, Massage and Foot Care, many people are likely thinking: “What am I supposed to do? I don’t have time to go and spend two hours at the gym every day to get myself moving!” – To which we respond: Don’t fret! It is much easier than you might think to relieve and prevent recurrence of the aches and pains that you are feeling. All it takes is a few minutes of your day!

At a maximum, after an hour of working you should be taking a small break. Either to do a stretching regiment or even to take a quick walk around the office to go and deliver a memo or to go grab a coffee from the break room! Visit a co-worker instead of emailing.

Here are 5 quick stretches that you can do right at your desk without even having to get up:

  1. The Toe Touch: Remain seated, extend your legs out and reach for your toes. Hold this for 20 seconds
  2. The Aerobic Reach: Extend each arm (one at a time) over head and to the opposite side and hold for 20 seconds on each side
  3. The Ceiling Gazer: Clasp your hands behind your back, push chest out and raise chin to gaze at the ceiling for 20 seconds
  4. The Head Tilt: Gently pull your head towards each shoulder with your hand and hold for 20 seconds (make sure to not pull too aggressively)
  5. The Up and Over Stretch: Clasp your hands together over your head and stretch upwards. Hold this for 20 seconds. If you would like to continue this stretch lean to either side (with your hands still clasped above your head) and hold for 20 seconds on each side.

Studies have shown that workplace stretching can improve flexibility and can also improve your sense of attractiveness and self-worth. It has also been shown to reduce that pesky pain by about 72%!!

As you can see it doesn’t take much and it doesn’t take long and workplace stretching can have many positive results! So take a break, take a stretch and take a stroll, your body will thank you! That reminds me… looks like it’s about time for me to take a break!

Oakville working injury prevention tios from a Physio - study tips from Oakville Physio near Bronte
Don’t let this be you at work! Let your Physiotherapist guide you in a stretching / self-care program for your job.

As with any stretching or exercise program it is advisable to discuss the appropriateness of the movements for your case specifically with your Physiotherapist or Family Doctor. The Physiotherapists or Massage Therapists at Oakville’s Palermo Physio and Wellness Centre would be happy to design a self-care program for you during your working day. Please give us a call! ~Sarah H.