Pain Free Working

18 Work Stretches and When To Do Each

Feeling achy and sore before and after your shift at work? Numerous tasks, sitting in front of the computer for prolonged periods, poring over smartphones, being stuck in traffic — all these and more contribute to the aches and pains your body feels. The key to reducing and preventing these bodily aches? Regular stretching.

According to experts, regular stretching can offer relief to the strained muscles of the body. It can prevent injuries, keep you flexible, and allow you to maintain a greater range of mobility. Doing stretches can also improve your posture, refresh your mind, give you more energy, and keep you more focused as you won’t have to worry about pains any longer. In this article, we put together a number of stretches that you can do during your work breaks whether you’re in the office or working from home. Give them a try!

What Are The 5 Most Important Stretches?

These stretches may be simple, but they are fundamental to staying flexible and maintaining the range of motion of your joints. Stretching can also relieve stress and tension in the body. The following stretches focus on important parts of the body, particularly the hips, back, and shoulders. These parts are usually where most workers experience pain. By doing regular stretches, not only will your flexibility improve, but you’ll also experience less pain as well.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

First, stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and your arms by your sides. Exhale and bend forward at the hips, lowering your head toward the floor. Keep your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed. Next, wrap your arms around the back of your legs. Hold the pose for 45 seconds, or two minutes if you can. Bend your knees and slowly roll up to finish the stretch. 

You can also modify this stretch and make use of a low desk, a chair, or a stair step. Start by setting one foot on the surface of your choice. Standing tall, keep your chest high, your hips square, and your tailbone lifted. Next, bend forward from your hips. Feel the stretch in the back of your thigh or knee. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and then repeat with the other leg.

Lunge with Spinal Twist

This stretch helps open the hips and improve your mid-back mobility. Start by standing with your feet together. Next, using your left foot, take a big step forward, positioning yourself in a staggered stance. Bend your left knee and drop into a lunge, keeping your right leg straight behind you with your toes on the ground. You should be able to feel a stretch at the front of your right thigh. 

Next, place your right hand on the floor, twisting your upper body to the left as you extend your left arm toward the ceiling. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Repeat on the other side.

Neck Stretch

Holding tension in the neck can lead to neck strain, headaches, and even stress to the upper body. Many workers tend to hunch their shoulders or drop the head forward when working in front of the computer, placing extra stress on the neck muscles. Relieve your tension with this excellent stretch. 

Start by sitting in your chair. Next, reach down and grab the side of the chair with one hand and gently pull while tilting your head to one side. You should feel a stretch down on that side of the neck and shoulder. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, and then repeat on the opposite side.

Sitting Shoulder Stretch

This simple shoulder stretch can alleviate the tension in your upper back, help open your chest, and relieve you of your poor posture as well. First, sit on the floor with your feet flat on the ground. Put your hands together behind your head. Next, squeeze your shoulder blades together, lowering your clasped hands as far down as possible. Hold for 5 seconds, and let go. Repeat as much as you desire.

Glute Stretch

To do this, start by lying down on your back. Then, raise your legs into the air at a 90-degree angle. Bend one knee outward so that your ankle is resting on the opposite knee. Place your hands behind the straightened knee and gently pull it closer to you. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, and then switch legs.

What Are Some Good Stretches To Do Before Work?

Before you settle down at your workstation, it’s a good idea to stretch your muscles first. Stretching can help loosen your tight muscles and keep your circulation flowing. Additionally, if you’ve been working on something for hours, you should take a break by doing stretches. Taking the moment to stretch and move your back, hips, and shoulders around can make you feel reinvigorated and will give you more energy as the day goes on.

Shoulder Rolls

This is a great way to reduce the strain on your neck and shoulders. Stand tall or sit upright with your arms by your sides and your shoulders pulled back down. Next, bring your shoulders towards your ears as high as you can and roll them forward. Try to keep your torso straight as your upper back rounds up. Pull your shoulders back to the starting position and shrug up to do another roll. Complete 10 to 12 shoulder rolls. You can also reverse the move and roll to the back.

Eagle Arm Twist

You can stay seated in your chair for this stretch. Start by extending your arms in front of you at shoulder level. Then, cross your right arm over your left. Raise your forearms and twist your palms inwards. Hold for a few seconds, and repeat with your left arm over your right.

Triceps Stretch

You can do this one while kneeling, sitting, or standing. If you choose to stand, make sure that your feet are hip-width apart in distance. Place your arms straight overhead. Bend your right elbow and reach your right hand to touch the top middle of your back. Next, reach your left hand overhead and grasp just below your right elbow. Gently pull your elbow down and toward your head. Switch arms and repeat.

Seated Neck Release

Relieving the tension in your neck can make a positive impact on your shoulders and all the way to your spine. To do this, you can either stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or sit with your back straight and your chest lifted. Drop your left ear to your left shoulder. Gently press down on your head with your left hand for a deeper stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, and then switch sides.

Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch

Begin by kneeling on your left knee. Next, place your right foot flat on the floor in front of you, your knee bent. Lean forward as you stretch your left hip toward the floor. Squeeze your butt as much as you can, allowing you to stretch your hip flexor. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch to the opposite side to repeat.

Overhead Side Reach Stretch

This one can be done standing or seated. If you’re doing this standing, remember to position your feet hip-width apart and your hands by your sides. Place one hand at your side by your hip. Next, raise one arm overhead with your fingers pointing towards the sky. Engage your core muscles and lean to the opposite side of your straightened arm until you feel the stretch. Drop your neck gently as well. Hold for 10 seconds, and then return to the starting position to repeat on the other side.

Butterfly Stretch

Give your hips, glutes, back, and thighs some relief by doing this stretch. Sit tall on the floor with the soles of your feet pressed together, knees bent out to the sides. Hold onto your ankles or feet and engage your abs as you slowly lower your body toward your feet as far as you can while pressing your knees toward the floor. If that’s too challenging for you, simply pressing your knees down works too. Hold for 30 seconds or for as long as you can.

Half Downward Dog

This version of the well-known yoga pose is an all-body stretch that’s good for your hamstrings. You’ll need a chair or a desk for support. Stand facing the back of your chair or the front of your desk. Place your hands on the back of the chair or the edge of your desk, and then step back as far as you can. Lean forward at the hips, keeping your back straight. Try to keep your legs and arms straight as you stretch your spine. Hold for a few seconds, then rise back up to stand straight. Repeat as many times as you want.

Leg Lift

For this one, you need a desk or the back of your non-wheeled chair for support. Reach one leg up behind and grab hold of your ankle. Try to keep your hips pointing down as you draw your shin back by kicking into your hand. Let your shoulder roll open. Switch to the other leg after.

Ankle-Over-Knee Hip Stretch

Move your chair back a little so that you have room to cross your left ankle over your right knee. Next, use your right hand to slide your left ankle as close to your body as you can. Then, with your left hand, push your left knee down toward the ground gently. This will produce a stretch that will give relief to your hips. Hold for a couple of seconds, and then do the same on the other side.

Figure Four Position

To do this stretch, use a desk or a chair for balance. Start by crossing one ankle over your knee and lowering yourself into a sitting position. Push your hand down gently onto your inner thigh to apply some pressure. You should feel a nice stretch in the outer thigh and hip of your crossed leg. Switch sides and repeat.

Thread the Needle

This one is a stretch that can loosen up tight shoulders, as well as your neck and back. You may need a mat or a towel to do this one. Start on all fours, your hands flat on the floor and your wrists under your shoulders. Your knees should be aligned with your hips. Lift your right arm up toward the ceiling as you open up your chest and gaze to the right side. 

Next, move the right arm under the chest, toward the mat, with your right hand pointing toward the left side. Continue to thread your arm until your shoulder rests on the mat and you feel the stretch. Stay in the position for 20 to 30 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat with your other arm.

Piriformis Stretch

This one stretches the hips, back, and glutes. To begin, sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Cross your right leg over your left leg, and then place your right foot flat on the floor. Next, position your right hand on the floor behind your body, and then place your left hand on your right quad. If you can’t do that, you can also use your left elbow and place it on your right knee. Press your right leg to the left as you twist your torso to the right. Hold for a couple of seconds and then switch sides.

Incorporate these stretches in your day-to-day to be more flexible and loosen the tension in your muscles. Do note that we do not provide medical advice. The stretches in this article are simply suggestions on what you can do to relieve any aches you may be experiencing currently. If you have acute or chronic muscle pain or injury, it’s better to seek a physical therapist or a doctor for professional medical advice. 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.