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Medical research has proven that people who sit in a sedentary position all day long at work are in for serious medical problems. In addition to muscle pain, stiff neck and carpal tunnel syndrome, there are new problems coming to light.

The solution to all of these issues is performing simple stretching exercises at the work station.

It does not matter if a person is overweight or thin, sitting all day long at a desk can cause muscle strain and other types of pain and serious medical complications.  It is important to get up and stretch during the day to alleviate back strain, muscle tension, neck stiffness and a variety of other aches and pains.  Getting up and stretching during the day can help a person improve circulation and result in decreasing the chances of developing a work-related injury.

Stretching Exercises that can be Performed at Work

The following list contains simple stretching exercises which can help a person alleviate the aches and pains that come from sitting at a desk all day:

Shrug the shoulders to release the neck and back. 

  • While inhaling slowly and deeply, shrug the shoulders, lift them up to reach the ears, hold for count of five and then release.  Release shoulders and drop.  Repeat the exercise three times.
  • Shake the head slowly as if nodding yes or no.  Move the head up and down and side to side.  Do this until your neck and head feel relaxed.

Substitute exercising for sitting:   while working do the following exercises.

  • Replace a work chair with an exercise ball.   All day long you will be using the muscles of the thighs, buttocks, legs and back, while staying balanced.
  • If you have a private office you might consider moving in an elliptical trainer or treadmill.

Stand up and sit down, without using the hands.

  • Stand up and sit down over and over again without using the hands.

Point and flex the fingers, it is good for the hands, wrist and forearms.

  • Stretch left hand out in front of the body, point fingers towards the floor.  Use the right hand to increase the stretch and push the fingers down and inward gently.
  • Repeat with the other hand.
  • Stretch the left hand out in front of the body, keep the wrist bent and using fingers pull up gently.  Use the right hand to increase the stretching and pull the fingers backward gently toward the body.
  • Repeat on the other hand.

Do air circles by clenching both fists and stretching hands in front of the body.  Make circles in the air, backwards and forwards doing a repetition of ten.  Reverse the circles and then shake out the hands.
Do leg extensions which works the abdominals and leg muscles.

  • Grab the seat of a chair and brace the body and extend the legs straight out in front until parallel with the floor.
  • Flex and point toes five times and then release.
  • Repeat.

Release tension in the upper body by doing a torso twist.

  • Inhale and when exhaling turn to the right side and grab the back of a chair with the right hand.  Grab the arm chair with the left hand.
  • Grasp the chair to help twist the torso around as far as possible.  Hold the twist position, and slowly come back to the forward facing position. 
  • Repeat on the other side of the body.

Stretch out the back by doing the “big hug” exercise.

  • Hug the body; place the right hand on the left shoulder and the left hand on the right shoulder.
  • Inhale and exhale, release the area between the shoulder blades.

Walk instead of email and never eat at your desk!

  • Rather than emailing a college, walk over to the person to deliver a message.
  • Instead of hibernating during lunch at your workstation, get out and take a walk and breathe in some fresh air.

Look up to release tension in the upper body.

  • Sit tall in chair or stand up.  Stretch arms overhead and interlock the fingers.
  • Turn palms of hands to the ceiling and lift chin, tilt head back and gaze at the ceiling.
  • Breathe in, breathe out and release.

Stretch arms, back and shoulders with a “leg hug.”

  • Sitting at the edge of a chair, put feet together and place flat on the floor.
  • Leaning over, with chest to knees, allow arms to dangle loosely to the floor and release the neck.
  • Bring hands behind the legs, right hand grasping left wrist or forearm, left hand grasping the right.  Feel the stretching in the back, neck, arms and shoulders.  Hold for ten counts.
  • Release hands and repeat exercise three times or more if desired.

When on the job, it is important for a person to take a few moments during the day to tend to sore, achy, stiff muscles.  Always bear in mind that when performing work-place stretching exercises to never exert the body to the point of pain.


Stretching out tired, stressed muscles takes only a few minutes each day and keeps a person feeling fresh and invigorated.  Performing regular stretching exercises also enhances blood circulation, warms up muscles, helps prevent injuries, reduces tension and calms the mind.  It is important to remember that while all the stretching exercises in this article are safe, a person should always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any type of exercise routine.