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14 Desk Stretches for Lower Back Pain

Have you ever felt the kind of pain that your lower back is about to give up at the end of a long work day? Or maybe you’ve felt that sensation of your hips feeling too tight and your hamstrings too tense? These, and more, are all symptoms of prolonged sitting

Office workers sit in front of their computers almost the entire day, leading to back pain and a host of other health conditions. When a person is in one position for long periods of time such as sitting, it causes muscle deterioration, nerve damage, rounding of the upper back, and compressed discs in the lower spine area.

If you’re worried about lower back pain or if you’re experiencing it at this moment, worry not for we have a solution for you. Today, we’ll be teaching you a couple of lower back stretches to help relieve your pain. Stretching not only helps relieve back pain, but can also aid in improving posture, encouraging more movement in the day, and helping you maintain a higher quality of life. Check them out!

Can Stretching Fix Lower Back Pain?

Stretching is a direct way to address pain caused by prolonged sitting. According to a study that involved 4,300 participants, stretching the back muscles and the abdominal muscles can protect the body against lower back pain. Additionally, if stretching is combined with strengthening and aerobic exercises, it can reduce the severity of pain as well as disability. Stretching can also help those who have poor posture.

How Do I Relieve Lower Back Pain At My Desk?

Incorporate more movement in your day to keep the back pain away. Give yourself a break from your tasks and engage your body with some stretching exercises to release tension build-up and let your blood circulate around. Some of these stretches can be done by just sitting at your desk chair or standing. Some of them, however, require to be performed on the floor to stretch more muscle groups in your trunk. Either way, doing any of these back pain stretches can provide you with better back health. 

Neck and Chest Stretch

A lot of workers tend to slouch at their desks, causing not only neck pain but also pain to the upper body, mid spine, and back. By doing this stretch, you can ease the pain and open your chest up to release the tightness from having bad posture. 

Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on the base of your skull, fingers intertwined, thumbs running by your ears and down your neck. Gently lean your head back into your hands, turning your face toward the ceiling. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, ease your left elbow, pointing toward the ground and your right elbow toward the ceiling. 

Take another two deep breaths and return gently to the neutral position with your spine upright. Repeat on the other side with your right elbow toward the ground and the left elbow toward the ceiling. Do this 3 times on each side, alternating sides as you go.

Side Bend

This stretch helps in lengthening the lower back and side muscles that have become cramped from sitting. To do this, inhale and reach the right arm up and over the head, slowly bending to the left, with your left arm hanging by your side. Take about five deep breaths and then repeat on the opposite side. This can be done standing or seated.

Overhead Shoulder Stretch

Begin this one with your body facing forward. Next, raise one arm directly overhead and bend it at the elbow. Catch the elbow with your opposite hand. Gently pull the upright arm towards the opposite side and hold for 5 seconds before repeating with your other arm.

Reach Back

Sit with your back straight and your feet planted firmly on the ground. Have your hands clasped behind your back or grasping opposite wrists or elbows. Inhale and feel your ribs lift and your spine growing longer. Gently lean forward at the waist. Take note to only go as far as it feels good

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Tight hamstrings can affect the natural curve of the spine, so here’s one stretch that can loosen them up. Start in a seated position and bring your right leg out with your heel on the floor and your knee straight. Gently lean forward until a stretch is felt behind your knee or thigh. Keep your lower back straight to focus the stretch on the hamstring muscles. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, and then repeat with your left leg. Alternate.

Seated Figure Four Stretch

Begin seated in a chair. Cross one leg on top of the other so that your ankle is sitting over the opposite knee. Next, place one hand on the knee of the crossed leg. Gently lean your trunk forward while pressing lightly on the crossed knee. You should feel a mild to moderate stretch in the hip and buttock area. Hold this seated figure stretch for 15-20 seconds, and then repeat with your other leg.

Seated Twist

Sit up tall in your desk chair and put your left hand on the outer right knee, with your right hand coming up to your right hip or armrest. Inhale, sit up a little taller to lengthen the spine, exhale, and gently twist towards the right side. Look out over your right shoulder as you do this. Continue for about 3 to 5 deep breaths and then repeat on the opposite side.

Seated Knee To Opposite Shoulder

For this exercise, sit upright on your chair with your feet on the ground. Cross one leg over the other so that your ankle rests on the opposite thigh. Pull the raised knee across your body towards the opposite shoulder. Keep a straight back as you hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat for 3 times on the other side.

Standing Repeated Lumbar Extensions

Begin this stretch in a standing position, placing your hands on your hips. Slowly, and with control, lean your trunk backward to the first point of stiffness or pain. Return to an upright position. Pay attention to keeping your balance throughout the stretch. Your knees should also remain straight. Try to hold this stretch for 10 seconds, and repeat for two more times.

Standing Quadriceps/Hip Flexor Stretch

As you stand, hold onto your desk for support and put one foot up on a chair behind you. If you’re flexible enough, you can place that foot on the arm or back of the chair instead of the seat. Make sure that your foot on the ground is pointed forward, with your knees bent slightly. Next, slowly push your pelvis forward while contracting your glutes. You should feel a good stretch on the front of your hip and thigh. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds, then repeat 3-5 times on each side.

Deep Hip Muscle Stretch

Start off by sitting near the edge of your chair with both feet flat on the floor. Next, lift up your right ankle and place it on your left thigh, just above the knee. Sit up straight and tall and then, slowly bend forward from your hips, keeping your spine straight. Doing this will create a stretch through the back of your right hip. Hold this position for about 30 seconds and slowly come back up. Repeat three more times and then repeat with your left ankle on your right thigh. 

It’s important to remember to keep your spine straight when doing this. Additionally, if you feel numbness or a pins and needles sensation when doing this, take it as an indicator that you are over stretching and slowly stop.

Glute Bridge Stretch

This stretch is ideal to do if you have a private office or a clear area available to you as it requires you to be on the floor. To start, lie down on the floor with your knees bent and your palm face down at your side. Lift your body until your shoulder and knees form a straight line. Squeeze your glutes and engage your core muscles. Hold this posture for 5 seconds before gently backing down.

Twister Pose Stretch

Stand straight with your feet together and your hands at the sides. Bend your knees and sit low until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Next, bring your hands together at your chest, similar to a prayer position. Twist your torso/trunk to the right. Your left shoulder should be outside your left knee while your right elbow is pointed upwards. Stay in this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then repeat the stretch on the other side.

Supine Twist Stretch

For this one, make a T position by lying on your back on the floor and bringing your arms to the side. Bend your right knee and rest your right foot on your left knee. Keep your shoulders flat as you drop your right knee to the left side of your body. Twist your spine and lower back by looking at your right fingertips. Hold this position for 6 to 10 breaths and stretch to the other side.

We hope that these stretches were able to reduce your back pain and ease the tension in your spine. All of the stretches listed here are quite simple, but always remember to check in with your doctor or physical therapist if you experience any kind of discomfort. Stay healthy and stay safe!

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.