Pain Free Working

Stretches To Do While Sitting at Your Desk (And Staying Seated!)

We’ve all had those days at work where we can’t simply tear ourselves away from our desks, piled up with numerous tasks that need to be done at once. While all we want to do is to finally finish up our to-do list, sitting all day to do so can be actually counter-productive. Prolonged sitting can give us a number of health issues and there are also times when we start to lose motivation and productivity the longer we stare at our screens.

It’s important to take care of ourselves even when we’re faced with a flurry of deadlines. It’s highly recommended to take breaks throughout your work day. While taking a sip of your coffee, taking a bite of food, and closing your eyes for a few minutes can help a lot, there’s another way to refresh yourself. 

If you can’t get out of your chair, you can still feel refreshed by doing a couple of desk stretches. Incorporating more movement by doing a stretch or two can release the tension accumulated in your muscles, let your blood circulate better, and even clear your mind, giving you a new spark of energy and productivity. In this article, we’ll be introducing some stretch exercises that you can do while sitting at your desk. Check them out!

How Can I Stretch My Legs While Sitting At My Desk?

Staying in one position for too long can be detrimental to your muscles. The risk of developing varicose veins or Deep Vein Thrombosis is high when you’re seated for too long, that’s why it’s important to stretch out your legs once in a while. Here are some desk stretches that you can do to keep the blood circulating in your lower body.

Leg Extensions

Brace yourself on the edge of your chair and extend your legs straight out in front of you, making them parallel to the floor. Flex and point your toes five times. Release and repeat as many times as you desire.

Knee Pumps

Cross your leg and rest it on your knee as you sit up straight. Take a deep breath and push down gently on your knee to stretch your glutes. Exhale slowly as you finish a knee pump. Repeat with your other leg, taking about 5 to 10 seconds to hold each stretch.

Toe Toucher

This one is fairly simple to do. First, move to the edge of your seat. Straighten out your legs and reach out to try and touch your toes. Remember to keep your legs straight and to not bend your knees as you stretch. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat as many times as you want. 

Hamstring Stretch

Your hamstrings can tighten quickly without any regular movement. Stretching exercises can help relieve leg discomfort and keep your hamstrings loose. To do this, extend your right leg forward, keeping your left foot flat on the floor. Sit tall with your head in line with your spine and begin to fold forward, reaching for your right toes. 

If you can’t reach your toes, don’t force yourself; hold on to your back knee instead. Hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and then repeat with the other leg. Remember to lock the wheels of your chair when you do this to avoid rolling backward.

Seated Hip Stretch

As you’re seated, cross your right ankle over the left knee. Sit up nice and tall and then gently lean forward, keeping your back straight and reaching out with the torso until you feel a stretch in the right glute and hip. You can also press down on the right knee to deepen the stretch. Hold for about 10 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

How Can I Lose Belly Fat While Sitting At My Desk?

Back pain isn’t the only thing to be wary of when sitting for long periods. Weight gain is also possible due to limited movements in the day. To reduce that extra body weight and shred a few inches off your belly, here are some core-focused stretching exercises that you can do in your desk chair.

Lower-Abs Leg Lifts

This is a stretch you can do anytime as it includes subtle movements. Sit straight up on your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Next, lift one leg up at a time, keeping your core tight while you do so. If you want it to be more challenging, try lifting both legs at the same time. Do about 20 reps.

Spinal Twist Stretch

Sitting slumped forward can put a lot of strain on your back. Doing desk stretches such as the spinal twist can help relieve the tension across your back and even reset your poor posture. Start with your feet flat on the ground. Next, contract your abs and slowly rotate your upper body toward the right. 

Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Meanwhile, your right hand should be placed on either the armrest or the back of the seat to deepen the stretch. Remember to twist only as far as you feel comfortable. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Next, slowly come back facing forward, then switch sides.

Ab Crunches

Position yourself on the front of your chair with your feet and thighs pressed together, knees at a 90-degree angle. Bring your arm up and bend them at the elbows with your fingers interlaced behind your head. Engage your core as you lean back until you graze the back of your chair. Keep your back in a straight line and your abs engaged as much as possible. 

Next, sit back up and slowly lower your right elbow to the opposite knee. Lift one foot off the floor so that the knee meets the elbow. Don’t forget to keep your abs engaged and your fingers interlaced behind your head the entire time. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other side, and then back to the starting position after, making that one full repetition. Repeat each rep for about 20 times.

How Can I Relax While Sitting At My Desk?

Incorporating stretching exercise during the course of your work day can greatly help you in the long run. Not only do desk stretches loosen up your muscles, but they also help you feel refreshed and sharp. Here are other desk stretches that you can do without even getting up from your chair.

Hand Stretch

Give your hands and wrists a break from typing all day long to reduce the risk of issues such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Start by stretching your left hand out in front of you. Grab it using your right hand and bend it slowly towards you until you feel a slight burn in your wrist. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds. Do the same thing on the opposite side. Repeat for about 3 times. 

Next, grab the first hand that you used to start this stretch. In this case, it’s the left hand. With your palms facing out, pull back until you feel a stretch in your wrist. Do this 3 times on both hands.

Shoulder Shrugs

The shoulders and neck carry a lot of tension and stress due to typing, clicking, and even hunching in front of our computers. A lot of us don’t realize that we slouch throughout the day, this leads to the shoulder muscles going tight with tension. Shoulder rolls or shrugs are a good way to loosen up your muscles. 

Lift your shoulders towards the ears, squeezing them as hard as you can. Hold for 2 to 2 seconds and then roll your shoulders back as you relax down. Repeat for 8 to 10 times.

Upper Body Back Stretch

Refresh your upper back muscles with this move. To do this, stretch your arms straight out and rotate your hands, your palms facing away from each other. Cross your arms with palms pressing together. Contract your abs and round the back, reaching away as you relax the head. Imagine yourself curving up an imaginary ball instead of collapsing your upper body. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. You can also lace your fingers together if twisting your arms brings you discomfort.

Seated Cat Cow

You don’t need to lay down a yoga mat to be able to do this one. In a seated position, place your feet shoulder-width apart, with toes pointed toward. Rest your hands on your knees. Using only your torso, extend your spine and press your chest towards the ceiling, retract your shoulder blades and squeeze. Next, slowly roll your spine and shoulders forward. Return to the starting position and repeat for about 8 to 12 times.

Crossed Arms Stretch

For this one, extend one arm out straight in front of you. With your other hand, grab the elbow of your outstretched arm and pull it across your chest. This move allows you to stretch your shoulder and upper back muscles. Hold and then release. Do with the other side and repeat.

Elbow Pump

This is a subtle stretch that you can do without attracting any attention from your co-workers and makes for a good break from your tasks. For this stretch, the first thing to do is to touch your opposite shoulder blade. Next, gently pull your elbow towards the opposite side.

One-Arm Hug

Take your left arm and grab the back of your right shoulder. Next, using your right hand, grab your left elbow and gently push it towards your right shoulder. This move will stretch out your left shoulder, releasing tension. Repeat the movements with your other arm to stretch out the right shoulder.

Big Hug Stretch

This is a good stretch to end the day with. Place your right hand on your left shoulder and your other hand on your right shoulder. Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, release the tension in all the muscles between your shoulder blades.

Stay active even if you’re stuck in your office chair with these desk stretches! By incorporating more movement in your day with these stretching exercises, we’re certain that your back, shoulders, legs, and entire body will thank you for it. 

If you’re looking for something more challenging and find that you have time to get up from your desk, you might want to try other stretching exercises such as desk push-ups or wall sits. Always remember that if you feel any discomfort in doing any of the desk stretches, seek out your personal trainer or someone who can provide medical advice so that you reduce risk of any injury. Take care! 

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.