Desk Exercises

Prolonged hours of sitting can lead to aches, pains, and poor posture, affecting your overall well-being.

But fear not—we’ve compiled a list of the top-10 stretches and exercises to help you manage discomfort and enhance your posture, right at your desk.

These simple-yet-effective movements can be seamlessly integrated into your daily routine, providing much-needed relief and revitalization. Say goodbye to the strains of a sedentary workday and hello to a more relaxed, energized, and posture-perfect you!

Let’s dive into the top-10 stretches and exercises that will transform your desk experience.

  1. Neck Tilt Stretch
    • Sit up straight and slowly tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear toward your shoulder.
    • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds on each side.
  2. Chin Tucks
    • Sit or stand with your shoulders relaxed.
    • Gently tuck your chin in toward your neck.
    • Hold for a few seconds and repeat several times.
  3. Shoulder Blade Squeeze
    • Sit or stand with your arms by your sides.
    • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you’re trying to hold a pencil between them.
    • Hold for a few seconds and release.
  4. Chest-Opener Stretch
    • Clasp your hands behind your back and gently straighten your arms.
    • Lift your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
    • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
  5. General Upper Back and Chest Stretch
    • While looking forward place your hands behind your head.
    • Gently push your head backwards into your hands.
    • Slightly look skyward and stick your chest out to deepen the stretch to your liking.
    • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds on each side
  6. Seated Spinal Twist
    • Sit up straight and cross one leg over the other.
    • Gently twist your torso in the direction of the crossed leg.
    • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds on each side.
  7. Hip Flexor Stretch
    • Start in a standing position; move your affected leg one pace backward.
    • Keeping your feet in that position, drive your hips forward and lift up your chest.
    • Hold for 15 to 30 seconds on each side.
  8. Seated Leg Raises
    • Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor.
    • Lift one leg as high as you comfortably can.
    • Hold for a few seconds and repeat with the other leg.
  9. Glute Squeezes
    • Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
    • Squeeze your glutes (buttocks) together and hold for a few seconds.
    • Release and repeat several times.
  10. Standing Desk Stretches
    • Perform standing stretches such as calf raises, leg swings, or simple forward bends to break up the sitting routine.

Remember to incorporate the stretches and exercises into your daily work routine to manage aches and pains and improve your posture. Taking short breaks to move and stretch throughout the day is key to maintaining a healthy and comfortable seated-position posture at your desk.

Dr. Chris LaRocque, BSc, DC, and Dr. Aleem Remtulla, BSc, DC,
Foundation for Integrated Health, Lonsdale Quay, North Vancouver.

Sitting Posture

Sitting Posture

Tips to get the best sitting posture at your computer:

  1. The 90-degree Rule – Elbows
  2. The 90-degree rule – Hips and Knees
  3. Feet flat on the floor
  4. Sit back in your chair
  5. Lumbar support
  6. Computer screen level
  7. Get moving

Working from home has many benefits but it also comes with some challenges. Here we’re going to look at modifications that can be made to your sitting posture and ergonomics at your home desk to prevent aches/pains, chronic fatigue and enhance productivity through your work week.

The 90-degree rule – Elbows:

  • The 90-degree rule refers to the positioning of your elbows, hips, and knees. Firstly, your elbows need to be set in the best position to prevent you from over activating your shoulder/neck muscles and reducing strain on your wrists.
  • When rolling your shoulders back into a relaxed and optimal position, you should have your arms by your side and the elbows at 90 degrees. From this position you should be able to reach your keyboard comfortably without needing to extend the arms forward or reach up.
  • Adjust the arm rests on your chair to support your elbows and forearm. The main factor to be aware of is that you’re not shrugging your shoulders up which will activate your upper trap muscles and add tension to your neck. Keeping the elbows at the 90-degree level will also help off load the tension in the wrists and prevent carpal tunnel.
  • Adjusting the height of your desk may be necessary to correct this positioning.

The 90-degree rule – Hips and Knees:

  • Make sure the height of your chair is at an appropriate level for you.  If you’re too high up it will feel like you’re being pulled forward which will add strain to your back. If you’re too low then you’ll be forced to the back of your chair causing a slouched posture and shortening/tightening of your hip flexors.

Feet flat on the floor:

  • When sitting for many hours through the work day we tend to shift our weight from side to side, cross our legs, cross one leg over the other, etc.  These habits can eventually become a problem for your hips and back by adding strain to those areas causing extra wear and tear and activation. If the rest of the desk is set up correctly (90o Rule) then chances are your heels may not be touching the ground perfectly. Try finding the correct size box/stool or platform that will allow you to keep your feet flat and steady to create a comfortable base for your body and prevent you from leaning and shifting out of place.

Sit back in your chair:

  • The length of the chair seat should be ideal for your height. If your tall, then sitting all the way back is probably easier for you but make sure the length of the seat is extending from your butt all the way to just before where your knees are to provide the full-length support and not be cut off midway through your thighs. If you’re shorter, then the seat length should also be a bit shorter so that you can sit comfortable at the back rest and not have the chair seat go past the back of your knees.

Lumbar support:

  • The low back has a natural curve to it that can be difficult to maintain when sitting for a long time. We all tend to slouch and round out our low back which is terrible for the spinal joints. If your chair already has good support to help you maintain the lumbar curve then that’s great. If not, try using a small pillow/roll up a small towel to add support to your low back curve and prevent slouching.

Computer screen level:

  • Out of convenience we see a lot of people working all day on their laptops which unfortunately require you to look down at the screen and reach out to get to the keyboard. This posture can lead to neck pain, headaches, and back pain over time and is not recommended for long term use.
  • Try getting an external keyboard and mouse so that you can set your laptop up on a stand so the screen is at the correct level. Then you can place the keyboard and mouse in its ideal position. Getting an external larger monitor would be helpful too if needed.


  • Even with the perfect desk set up, sitting for long hours causes a lot of strain on the joints and muscles in your body. Getting up and moving around throughout the day is important to prevent the muscle strain buildup. Try setting a timer on your phone to remind you to get up and stretch or go get some water.
  • The convenience of working from home also allows for you to have your own space to get up and properly stretch your back or roll out your muscles through the day which will greatly reduce tension through your body and prevent injuries.