While the workday grind is important to keep the wheels of business spinning, it's critical we take care of our bodies too or risk getting stuck in place like an old rusty gear.
As anyone who has sat hunched over a desk for hours can attest, the monotonous motions accumulate tension into tight muscles screaming for relief.
In this post, we'll explore some simple stretches you can do right at your workspace to soothe those aching areas and get blood flowing again so you feel reenergized to take on the rest of your to-do list.
We’ve got some go-to at-work stretches that will have you feeling loose and limber in no time.
Just be sure to check with your manager first - you don't want to freak out any coworkers if they walk in and find you in a downward dog pose:
Best Stretches For Office Workers
Listed below are the best stretches you can do at work:
1. Hand Grippers
Hand grippers strengthen grip and forearm muscles, improving overall arm strength and promoting finger dexterity.
Convenient for office use, they offer a discreet way to enhance hand muscles during breaks. Hand grippers are ideal for building endurance and contribute to reduced fatigue during prolonged gripping activities.
- Hold the Gripper: Start by holding the hand gripper in one hand with a comfortable grip.
- Positioning: Ensure your hand and wrist are in a neutral position, neither overly flexed nor extended.
- Squeeze Gripper: Exert force by squeezing the gripper, bringing the handles together with your fingers and palm.
- Hold the Squeeze: Hold the gripper in the squeezed position for a moment to engage the hand muscles.
- Release Slowly: Gradually release the grip, extending your fingers and opening the handles.
- Repeat: Perform 10-15 repetitions with each hand, gradually increasing the resistance as your strength improves.
2. Shoulder Shrug
The Shoulder Shrug is a simple yet effective stretch for office workers, targeting the often-tense shoulder and neck areas.
By lifting the shoulders towards the ears and then releasing, this stretch helps alleviate stiffness, improves blood circulation to the shoulder muscles, and can be conveniently performed at a desk or during short breaks.
- Start Position: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or sit up straight in a chair.
- Relaxed Position: Allow your arms to hang naturally by your sides.
- Inhale: Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose.
- Shrug Upward: As you inhale, gradually lift both shoulders towards your ears, bringing them as close as comfortable.
- Hold Position: Maintain the shrugged position for a brief pause, feeling the tension in your shoulder muscles.
- Exhale: Slowly exhale through your mouth as you lower your shoulders back down to the relaxed position.
- Repeat: Perform 10-15 repetitions, focusing on smooth, controlled movements.
3. Forward Fold
The Forward Fold is a beneficial stretch that addresses common issues associated with prolonged sitting.
By bending at the hips and reaching toward the floor, it stretches the lower back and hamstrings, providing relief from lower back tightness.
Additionally, the forward fold promotes a sense of relaxation and can be a quick and effective way to reduce stress during the workday.
- Starting Position: Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Inhale: As you breathe in, lift your arms overhead, reaching toward the ceiling.
- Exhale: Slowly begin to hinge at your hips, keeping your back straight as you fold forward.
- Bend Knees if Necessary: If you feel tension in your hamstrings, bend your knees slightly to maintain a straight back.
- Reach Toward the Floor: Extend your hands toward the floor or grab onto your shins, depending on your flexibility.
- Hold Position: Stay in the forward fold for 15-30 seconds, allowing your spine to lengthen and releasing tension in your lower back and hamstrings.
- Inhale to Rise: Inhale deeply as you slowly return to the upright position, rolling up one vertebra at a time.
4. Seated Spinal Twist
Seated work often leads to spinal stiffness, making the Seated Spinal Twist particularly valuable at-work stretch. This stretch enhances spinal mobility and flexibility, targeting the muscles along the sides of the torso.
Beyond its physical benefits, the seated spinal twist may also help stimulate digestion, making it a well-rounded stretch for office workers.
- Sit Comfortably: Sit on the floor or in a chair with your spine tall and legs extended in front of you.
- Cross One Leg Over: If on the floor, cross one leg over the other, placing the foot flat on the ground.
- Inhale and Lengthen: Inhale deeply, elongating your spine.
- Twist Towards Crossed Leg: Exhale as you twist your torso towards the crossed leg, placing the opposite elbow on the outside of the knee.
- Gaze Over Shoulder: Turn your head to look over your shoulder, deepening the stretch through your spine.
- Hold Position: Maintain the twist for 15-30 seconds, breathing deeply and feeling the rotation in your spine.
- Release and Switch Sides: Slowly unwind and switch the cross of your legs to repeat on the other side.
5. Shoulder Rolls
Shoulder Rolls offer a simple yet impactful way to ease shoulder tension. By rolling the shoulders backward and forward, this stretch reduces stiffness and promotes better posture.
Regular shoulder rolls are among the best stretches for office workers that enhance blood circulation to the shoulder and upper back muscles, relieving the strain associated with prolonged desk work.
- Relaxed Position: Stand or sit comfortably with your arms hanging loosely by your sides.
- Roll Shoulders Backward: Inhale as you roll both shoulders backward in a circular motion.
- Complete Rotation: Lift your shoulders towards your ears, roll them back, and then down in a smooth, continuous motion.
- Repeat Forward: After several backward rolls, reverse the motion by rolling your shoulders forward.
- Repeat the Sequence: Perform 10-15 shoulder rolls in each direction, ensuring a controlled and fluid movement.
6. Seated Hip Stretch
For those seeking relief from hip tightness, the seated hip stretch is a practical solution.
By hugging one knee toward the chest, this at-work stretch targets the hip flexors, a group of muscles that often become tight from extended periods of sitting.
Performing this stretch regularly can contribute to increased hip flexibility and overall comfort.
- Sit on the Floor: Sit with your legs extended in front of you.
- Bend One Knee: Bend one knee and cross it over the extended leg, placing the foot flat on the floor.
- Hug Knee to Chest: Hug the bent knee towards your chest, feeling a stretch in the hip of the crossed leg.
- Maintain Posture: Keep your back straight and sit tall.
- Hold Position: Hold the stretch for 20-40 seconds, breathing deeply.
- Switch Legs: Release and switch to the other leg, repeating the stretch on the opposite side.
7. Seated Triceps Stretch
Finally, the Seated Tricep Stretch is a quick way to address arm tension.
This stretch targets the triceps and the back of the arm by reaching one arm overhead and patting the upper back with the opposite hand.
Incorporating this at-office stretch into the work routine can contribute to improved arm flexibility and reduced muscle tightness.
- Sit Tall: Sit or stand with a straight spine.
- Raise One Arm: Lift one arm overhead, bending the elbow and reaching down the center of your back.
- Pat Your Back: Use the opposite hand to gently pat or reach towards the upper back, making contact with the triceps.
- Hold Position: Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, feeling the tension in the triceps and the back of the arm.
- Switch Arms: Release and switch to the other arm, repeating the stretch on the opposite side.
By stretching your body during your workday, you have the potential to see an increase in efficiency, a decrease in fatigue and even a decrease in muscle soreness.
Overall, making sure your muscles are prepared for activity is key to sustaining productivity throughout the day.
Try some of these best-at-work stretches throughout your day – take a break and re-energize.
And remember, don’t let the latest stretch craze go completely ignored – get ready to enjoy the full benefits of feeling less soreness and more energy as a result of implementing stretches throughout your workday.
Rise up with your new easy-to-execute routine (it only takes 5 minutes!) and enjoy living out that best version of you.