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Preventing Back Pain with Desk Stretches

These days, many of us spend a significant amount of time sitting at a desk, whether it's for work or leisure. However, prolonged sitting can lead to various health issues, including back pain. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work and visits to the doctor's office. The good news is that through regular stretching, you can prevent and alleviate back pain caused by sitting at a desk chair. In this article, we will explore five effective stretches that you can easily do right from your desk chair. For a more personalized plan contact us.



Woman Stretching her arm over her shoulder

The Importance of Stretching

Before we dive into the specific stretches, it's essential to understand why stretching is crucial for preventing and relieving back pain. Sitting for extended periods can cause tightness and stiffness in the muscles of the back, neck, and shoulders. Stretching helps to counteract this by improving flexibility, increasing blood flow to the muscles, restoring lost Range Of Motion and reducing fatigue.

Regular stretching can also improve your posture, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy spine. Poor posture, often a result of prolonged sitting, can lead to muscle imbalances, and increased pressure on the spine, resulting in back/neck pain. By incorporating stretching into your daily routine, you can strengthen the muscles that support your spine and maintain proper alignment.

Chest Opener Stretch

The chest opener stretch is an effective way to counteract the forward slouching posture that often accompanies sitting at a desk. This stretch helps to open up the chest muscles and promote proper alignment of the spine.

  • Sit at the front of your chair with your feet flat on the ground.

  • Grab the sides or the back of your chair.

  • Pull your chest forward by moving your shoulder blades towards one another.

  • Contract the muscles between the shoulder blades for 2 seconds and repeat 10 times.

The chest opener stretch not only helps to improve posture but also relieves tension in the muscles of the upper back and neck that are attributed to tension headaches.  A tingle in the arms noticed during computer work or while lying on one side at night is something that may be helped by doing this stretching technique.

Neck Rotation Stretch

Sitting at a desk for prolonged periods can often lead to neck pain and stiffness. The neck rotation stretch is an excellent way to alleviate tension in the neck and improve overall posture.

  • Sit up straight in your chair.

  • Rotate the head to the right by contracting the right side of the neck.  Assist at end range of movement by placing the right hand along the left side of the jaw and left hand on the back of the head.  

  • Stretch for 2 seconds.  

  • Repeat 10 times while alternating right and left sides.

By incorporating the neck rotation stretch into your routine, you can reduce neck pain and improve mobility in the cervical spine.

Upper Body Stretch

This upper body stretch targets the muscles of the thoracic spine and helps to alleviate pain and tension caused by prolonged sitting.

  • Sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the ground.

  • Reach into the air and lean trunk laterally as far as possible.  Continue to reach upward with both arms while leaning.  

  • Hold this position for 2 seconds.  

  • Repeat 10 times while alternating right and left sides.

The Upper body stretch is particularly beneficial for athletes who tend to have compressed spines. It helps to elongate the spine and relieve pressure on the upper back.

Trunk Rotation Stretch

The trunk rotation stretch is an effective way to relieve tension in the lower back and improve spinal mobility.

  • Sit up straight in your chair and plant your feet on the ground.

  • Rotate your trunk as far as possible while turning to the right.  Grab the arm rest and/or the back of the chair to assist into a stretch position.  

  • Hold this position for 2 seconds.  Repeat 10 times while alternating right and left sides.

  • Repeat on the other side.

Incorporating the trunk rotation stretch into your routine can help to reduce lower back pain and improve range of motion of the spine.

Hamstring Stretch

Although the hamstrings are located in the legs, tight hamstrings can contribute to lower back pain. Stretching the hamstrings can help alleviate tension in the lower back and improve overall flexibility.

  • Extend one leg outward by contracting the quadriceps muscles, keeping it as straight as possible.

  • Keep the other leg bent with your foot flat on the ground.

  • Reach your hands towards your toes.

  • Hold this position for 2 seconds and repeat on the opposite leg.  

  • Repeat 10 times, each leg.

By regularly stretching the hamstrings, you can reduce stress on the lower back and improve overall mobility.

Additional Tips for Preventing Back Pain with Desk Stretches

In addition to incorporating these stretches into your routine, there are a few other tips that can help prevent back pain from sitting at a desk chair:

  • Maintain Proper Posture: Sit up straight with your feet flat on the ground and your back supported by the chair. Avoid slouching or hunching over the desk.  Proper posture can naturally be obtained by strengthening the muscles of the upper back that connect the shoulder blades to the spine.

  • Take Regular Breaks: Stand up and move around every 30 minutes to improve circulation and reduce muscle stiffness.

  • Use Ergonomic Equipment: Invest in an ergonomic chair, keyboard, and mouse that promote proper alignment and reduce strain on your back and wrists.

  • Adjust Your Monitor: Position your monitor at eye level to avoid straining your neck and upper back.

  • Stay Active: Engage in regular physical activity outside of work, such as walking, running, stretching, or strength training, to keep your back muscles strong and flexible.

Next Steps

Preventing and alleviating back pain caused by desk work is crucial for maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle. By incorporating these stretches into your daily routine you can improve your posture, reduce muscle tension, and prevent chronic back pain. Remember to consult with for a personalized plan from Performance Care Stretch Clinic. Take care of your back, and it will thank you with improved comfort and mobility.

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