Desk Stretching

We spend an enormous amount of time sitting in the same position, so let’s reset our work time with some quick and easy desk stretches! Please remember, don’t do anything that hurts. Everyone is different, so listen to your body and work within your own limitations. Also, if you have wheels on your chair, make sure to secure them against something so the chair doesn’t start moving during a stretch.

To help you along, our stretches have been arranged in top to toe order. Try and do at least 3 of these stretches every hour to break the physical monotony of sitting in one position.

Just so you know…

*GOOD SEATED POSITION:  Sit up straight, feet on the ground and hip width apart. Pecs towards the sky, shoulders down and back. Imagine your spine as a column and gently extend it up whilst leaning down onto your sitting bones. Bring your belly button towards your spine a little bit when you do this (it will help engage your ‘core’ and stop you leaning forward).

**LOW & SLOW BREATH: Image you have a little balloon in your lower torso. Breathing slowly in through your nostrils, gently fill this balloon – don’t overfill it or it will burst!  Mentally count “1, 2, 3” as you’re breathing in and then breathe out slowly through your mouth to the same number. This is to stop you breathing too high (clavicular breathing), which will tense your shoulders and neck.

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Eye Refocus

Sit up straight in good seated position*.

Look away from your screen (or object of focus).

Take off any reading glasses and close your eyes for a couple of seconds.

Now look at something new and farther away, like a poster or a wall clock, and wait for your eyes to refocus.

Relax and hold this view for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.

Eye Muscle Roll

Look away from your screen (or object of focus).

Don’t really focus on anything in particular and only move your eyes (not your head!) when doing the next sequence.

Look right for one full low & slow breath. Look back to centre.

Look left for one full low & slow breath. Look back to centre.

Look up for one full low & slow breath. Look back to centre.

Look down for one full low & slow breath. Look back to centre.

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Side Neck and Shoulder Stretch

Sit in good seated position*.

Looking straight ahead (this is the ‘neutral position’), use your left hand to gently pull your neck slowly to the left, keeping your right shoulder down.

Hold for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.

Bring your neck back to neutral and then do your right side.

Reconstructed Neck Roll

We’ve reconstructed the classic neck roll because a lot of people end up doing them too quickly, which can lead to injury.

Sit up straight in good seated position*. Turn your head slowly so that you’re looking slightly over your left shoulder. Gently drop your head down and, keeping your chin tucked towards your chest, slowly roll your head right until you reach your right shoulder.

Raise head up so that you’re looking slightly over your right shoulder. This move should be done slowly in a wide ‘U’ shape. Repeat on both side 2-3 times then relax good seated position.

Lean your head backwards and hold for 1 low & slow full breath. Come back to centre position and now lean your head forward, gently tucking your chin towards your chest and hold for 1 low & slow full breath.

Repeat 2-3 times.

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Shoulder Hug

Sit up straight in good seated position*.

Place right hand on your left shoulder and bring your left arm under your right and bring your left hand to rest under right armpit.

Or vice versa – whatever feels comfortable – you should be giving yourself a big hug by now.

Curl your head forwards and walk your fingers further round your back if you want more of s stretch.

Hold the stretch for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.

Shoulder Blade Squeezes

1) Sit in good seated position*. Extend your arms out sideways, with your elbows bent and your forearms and hands extending upwards (your hands should be approximately level with your head).

Make sure you’re your spine is straight and your shoulder blades are leaning downwards.

Gently squeeze shoulder blades together (this move is to help counter all those hours we spend hunched over our laptops/devices!).

Hold the position for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.

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2) Sit in good seated position*.

Place your hands behind your head (interlock your fingers if it’s more comfortable) and make sure you’re your spine is straight and your shoulder blades are relaxed and leaning downwards (this move is to help counter all those hours we spend hunched over our laptops/devices!).

Slowly pull your elbows back and, as you do this, gently squeeze your shoulder blades together.

Hold for 2-3 slow & low breaths.**

Shoulder and Upper Arm Stretch

Sit up straight in good seated position*.

Extend both your arms out straight in front of you and level with your shoulders (this is your neutral position).

With your left hand, reach under your outstretched right arm and place your outstretched left hand just above the elbow of your right arm.

Gently pull your straightened right arm across your chest, stretching your shoulder and upper back muscles.

Hold the stretch for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.

Release and return to your neutral position and repeat the sequence for a left shoulder/arm stretch.


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Seated Tricep Stretch

Sit in good seated position*.

Straighten your left arm up and then bend at the elbow placing your arm down roughly along the line of your spine.

Take your right arm across the top of your head and place your right hand on your left elbow and apply gentle pressure backwards, to stretch the back of that arm.

Hold for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.

10 o’clock Shoulder Stretch

An extension of the classic pec stretch, this one engages the whole shoulder for a really good stretch.

Stand next to a wall approximately 6-8 inches away from it with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly raise the arm closest to the wall from 30 on a clock extending it behind you and up the wall to the 10 o’clock position (i.e. imagine a wall clock and where the numbers 30 and 10 would be).

If you want more of a stretch, imagine a line extending out from your arm on the wall and gently turn your face and upper body to follow that line until you feel a stretch in the front and back of your shoulder, armpit and upper arm.

Hold this for 3-5 low & slow breaths.**


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Wrist and Finger Stretch

Sit up straight in good seated position* and a little forward on your chair. Place your right elbow on the desk in front of you and bring your forearm up so that your hand is towards the ceiling. Make a tight fist with your right hand and relax your hand, so that the hand is fully outstretched. Do this 2-3 times and then loosely wiggle your fingers for a couple of seconds.

Now, keeping your right hand outstretched, slowly bend it forward and gently push down on the back of your right hand with your left hand to get a good wrist stretch. Hold the stretch for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.

Release your right hand and bring it back up so that your hand is fully outstretched, with fingers pointing upwards (this is your neutral position). Place your left palm on the fingers of your right hand and gently press the fingers backwards to give yourself a good palm and finger stretch.

Hold the stretch for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.

Release your right hand back to the neutral position and wiggle your fingers.

Repeat the whole sequence for your left hand.

Seated Upward Prayer Stretch

Sit in good seated position*.

Put your palms together in front of your chest and take in a slow, steady breath.

Keeping your palms together, extend them upwards until you have a complete stretch.

Slowly breathe out as you move your palms upwards and follow this path with your facial gaze (you can have your eyes open or closed).

Hold the stretch for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.

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Side Stretch

Sit up straight in good seated position*.

Lift both your arms over your head, and clasp hands (this is your neutral position).

Gently lock your elbows and lean left, keeping in a straight line with your torso.

Hold the stretch for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.

Release the stretch and return to your neutral position. Do the same stretch to your right.

Seated Torso Twist

Sit up straight in good seated position* and a little forward on your chair (this is your neutral position).

Slowly turn your torso to the right, resting your left hand on your outer right thigh/hip and grabbing the edge of your seat pan (the bit your backside is sitting on) with your right hand.

If you want a deeper stretch, you can grab the arm of the chair with your left hand and the back rest of your chair (the bit your shoulders rest on) with your right hand – but only do what’s comfortable.

Your legs and hips should be forward, your torso upright and twisted and you should be looking slightly over your right shoulder.

Hold the stretch for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.

Release the stretch and return to your neutral position. Repeat on the left side.


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Seated Windmill Stretch

Sit in good seated position*.

Extend your hands straight up in your air and then bring your left hand down to touch your right foot while you reach your right hand straight up into the air.

Turn your gaze upwards, towards to your right hand and hold for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.

Repeat for the other side.

Leg Hug (For the Upper Body)

Sit up straight in good seated position* and a little forward on your chair, with your feet flat on the floor.

Slowly lean forward, your chest towards knees, letting your arms dangle loosely to the floor and letting your head fall gently forward, releasing your neck.

If you can, place your hands flat on your feet or just hug your knees or the front of your legs (whatever s the most comfortable).

If you want more of a stretch, bring your arms behind your legs. Feel the stretch in your back, shoulders, and neck.

Hold the stretch for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.


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Standing ‘Downward Dog’ (for your Lower Back, Gluts and Upper Legs)

Find a sturdy chair or a table that’s close to your hip height (also make sure it’s also clear of clutter!).

Stand with feet hip width apart and lean your hands or forearms (whichever is more comfortable) onto the back of the chair or your extended arms and torso onto the table.

Keeping your legs as straight as is comfortable, lean your backside away from the chair/table.

The farther your backside is away from the table/chair, the more intense the move.

Once in the full, extended position, hold it for 3-5 low & slow breaths**.

Bum and Hip Hugs

1) Sit up straight in good seated position*. Lift the right knee up towards your torso (as close as feels comfortable) and grasp it with both hands. Pull your knee gently towards your chest.

Hold the stretch for 3-5 low & slow breaths**. Return your right foot to floor. Repeat the sequence with the left leg.


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2) Sit in good seated position*. Keeping your left foot on the floor, lift your right leg to rest your ankle on your left knee. Slowly fold your torso forward over your leg on the out breath.

Hold 3-5 low & slow breaths**, then slowly sit back up and repeat on the other side.

Seated Calf Stretch (a good all-round Leg Stretch)

Sit in good seated position* and a little forward on your chair.

Looking straight ahead (this is the ‘neutral position”), stretch your right leg out so the heel is resting on the floor and the toes are pointing upward.

Steady your body by placing your bended left arm on your left leg.

Fold your chest towards your knee and reach your right arm out. Try to touch your fingers to the top of your right foot (if you can’t reach that far, just rest your right hand on your right shin).

Hold for 3-5 low & slow breaths** and then slowly sit up to neutral position.

Repeat the same process with your other leg.


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Ankle Circles

Sit up straight in good seated position* and a little forward on your chair.

Stretch both legs in front of you, resting the feet on their heels.

Make 5 slow circles with both feet anti-clockwise.

Now make 5 slow circles with both feet clockwise.