How Often Should You Stretch at a Desk Job?

With increasing working hours and higher living standards, desk jobs employ the maximum number of people. After the pandemic, the return to office has led to various health concerns for people working from desk. Not only the comfort of bed has been a past dream but a pain-free back and joints too. The long periods of time spent working also leave little time for other activities such as going to the gym, jogging and eating healthy homemade food.

The health concern of working from a desk can be reduced if you take certain determined steps. This article provides answers to how often to stretch at desk job with 12 desk stretches that you can follow.

1. Why Should You Be Stretching?

How often to stretch at desk job
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It would be best if you stretched or had any movement at regular intervals during a desk job. Some health problems due to a poor posture or the same position, when working at a desk for many hours a day can lead to physical health risks, such as risk of heart disease, muscle aches, obesity, laziness, musculoskeletal-related disorders, irregular breathing, Carpal tunnel, digestive and stress issues and more.

2. Stretches You Can Do from Your Desk Chair-

How often to stretch at desk job? Here are some simple stretches and the categorization is non-exhaustive. It’s assumed that you sit straight with your feet flat on the ground. If necessary, it’s mentioned that you’re supposed to sit or stand in a certain way.

2.1 Stretch for Forearms

Stretch out your hands and make a fist with your thumb out. With pressure on the fingers from the base of the palm, stretch the arm.

2.2 Exercises for Triceps

Raise your arm and bend it behind your head, touching your neck/upper back. With the other arm, touch the elbow of the bent arm and pull it towards your head slowly.

Similarly, you can do the upper trap stretch by placing a hand on the back of your head and pulling it outwards in the same direction as your hand.

2.3 Exercises for Hands

Stretch out your hand, hold the fingers with the other hand and bend down your wrist for 5 seconds. Do the same with the other hand.

Open your hands downward and start to bend the wrist sidewise. Keep the motion for 3-5 seconds and repeat for 2-3 times for effective results. You can do the same thing with your hands up.

2.4 Neck Stretches

In an upright position, push your face backward without lifting the chin. The exercise will give you double chins. It is helpful to relax the muscles of the head, chest, and shoulders.

Stretch your neck and look up. Slowly bend your head on either shoulder. For extra pressure, place your hand opposite to the ear-bending on the chair. Touch the ear to the shoulder. Repeat on the other side.

Similar to the above exercise, stretch your neck by moving your head in a circular motion. Make you stretch your neck as much as possible. Place both hands on the chair to help add pressure.

2.5 Stretches for Arms and Shoulders

Raise your shoulders, hold for 2-3 seconds, and then drop them. Continue 3-4 times. Shoulder shrug gets rid of the rigid posture of sitting.

Similar to the above exercise, instead of linear, move your shoulders in a circular method. Keep changing the direction after every 1-2 times.

For shoulders, you can try what’s called the ‘pectoralis’ Stretch. Join your hands on the back. Push your chest out and lean back a bit.

This stretch is called latissimus stretch. For this, Lift up your arm straight and lean on its opposite side.

Fold your arms across your chest and try to hold your neck. Then slowly try to twist your head on any side. Twist so that your upper body stretches and hold the position for 3-4 minutes and repeat through the other side.

2.6 Chest Stretch

Put your hands behind your head and stretch your hands outward. Squeezing shoulder blades will help stretch your chest.

2.7 Stretches for Back and Sideways

Join your hands tightly. Keep your arms straight and pull them in the front and both sides. You can also try to stretch backward by standing or sitting straight and try to hold your hands behind, without moving your upper body forward. It’s nearly impossible at first so don’t overdo it and hurt yourself.

You can repeat the above exercise by using only one arm. Pull your hand above and try to reach the opposite side. You can do this only sideways and not in the front or back.

2.8 Stretches for Your Back

Maximum people with desk jobs have back aches. How often to stretch at a desk job? With 4-5 stretches daily only for the back, given below, you can prevent the condition from developing or becoming regular/acute.

  • Bend your arm toward your chest and hold it near the shoulder from the palm of the other.
  • Try to push your folded hand with the other hand. This exercise helps with the middle and upper back of yours.
  • Hold the lower part of your legs and in a bent position, lift it.
  • Push yourself forward and try to pull your knee to touch your nose. This exercise is called back curl and helps your back as well as your legs.

For this stretch, you’ll have to stand. Put your hands on the lower back and lean back a little.

Another stretch called the rhomboid upper back stretch requires you to pull your arms and hands straight forward. Lean forward a little, making your face go inside, and bend the upper part of your back.

Another simple stretch is a forward fold. This is essentially a yoga pose but you can do it on a desk chair too, if necessary. For this, sit straight with your feet evenly touching the ground. Slowly, hold below your knees and bend. Make your chest rest on your thighs. Take deep breaths, hold, and then slowly raise your back.

2.9 Stretches for Your Back and Hips or Glutes

Seated figure four stretch can be done by placing the ankle of one leg on the other knee. Then place your hands, one on the knee and the other on the heel of the folded leg. This will stretch your glutes and back. You can also slowly bend forward and back without moving from your chair.

2.10 Exercise for Ankles

Lift either of your legs. Hold it in the air straight. Try to bend and pull your ankles up either point it up or in the front. Repeat the same with the other leg.

2.11 Leg Stretches

Move forward from your chair so that your back isn’t touching it. With a straight back position, place both your legs on the floor evenly. Then, lift either leg a little and make the leg straight.  Hold it like that for some seconds and repeat with the other leg.

Similar to the abovementioned stretch, you can sit forward and lean your back on the chair. Hold your bent leg and try to touch it to your chest.

Sit forward on your chair. Stretch a leg out forward and try to touch your toes with your straight arms.

2.12 For Hips

Also known as trunk Rotation or Torso Stretch. For this, sit with crossed legs. Put an arm on the leg that’s on the other side. With little pressure, try to look or move your head the opposite way.

3. Other Healthy Tips to Follow Besides Desk Exercise

How often to stretch at desk job?
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Take regular screen breaks. If your job requires long periods of screen time, follow the 20-20-20 rule to avoid eye strain. In case of less to no screen time, try to take a short 5-minute break every hour. You can use the Pomodoro technique and set reminders/alarms. Schedule your work if possible, to reserve all the tasks involving a walk, to be done after every hour. This will also keep you productive.

Relax your body. Notice how your body tightens with any stress. Make sure to keep checking that your jaw is relaxed and your shoulders are dropped. Stress can cause fast and shallow breathing. Take a deep breath after every 5 minutes or a few breaths. Building a meditation habit can bring long-term positive effects.

Even when sitting, make sure to keep things you need often to be near you and stand to take things far from you. Place your thighs equally on your chair, keep your back straight, your hips should be at the back of the chair, and sit close to the keyboard if it’s there.

4. FAQs

1. How often to Stretch at a Desk Job?

If you don’t exercise at all and have prolonged sitting hours, you can start by taking a five-minute break every hour and stretching during that break period.

2. How Much Pain During the Stretch Is Fine?

If you’re starting to work out or do small exercises, a little strain on muscles when doing stretches is fine. Do not push and in case of excess or continuous pain, hindering your work, contact your doctor immediately.

3. Should You Replace a Desk Chair and Table with A Standing Desk?

Standing desk is better than sitting on office chairs as it helps to burn calories, increase your productivity, and lessen the risk of back issues. But, standing desk is not a substitute for exercise. If you’re standing and constantly staring at a screen and stressed, it can have cons too. Stretching and moving your body and changing surroundings are the only things that’ll help your body.

Last Updated on December 19, 2023 by