Office Workouts: The Exercises

Shoulder circles

Sitting or standing, slowly circle your shoulders backward 5–10 times and then forward 5–10 times, being sure to put them through their full range of motion. Keep your arms relaxed by your side, and remember to keep your chin tucked in.

This exercise works your shoulder-blade muscles and increases the blood flow to the upper-back and shoulder areas. It helps relieve pain and fatigue caused by poor posture. It also increases the mobility of the shoulder and upper back, making it easier to turn around and reach for things.


Neck rotation

Sitting or standing, turn your head to look over your shoulder. Remember to keep your chin tucked in. Return to start, and then do the exercise on the other side. Repeat 3–5 times on each side.

This exercise works muscles that help support and rotate the neck. The exercise helps maintain range of motion, improve mobility, and prevent stiffness in the neck, making it easier to look around and behind you (as when driving). If you feel pain, dizziness, or numbness/tingling in your hands, stop this exercise and check with your doctor before continuing.


Upper shoulder and neck side stretch

Sitting on a chair, with your chin drawn back and your shoulders relaxed, gently hold on to the underside of the chair seat with your right hand. Slowly tilt your left ear down toward your left shoulder, keeping your head facing forward. Hold the position for 10–20 seconds. Return to your starting position, but put your left hand under the chair, and do the stretch to your right side. Repeat 1–3 times on each side.

This exercise stretches muscles in the upper back and neck. It helps your shoulders and upper ribs stay flexible, mobile, and well-aligned, so you can reach and turn and look around and behind you. It also helps you breathe more efficiently. Again, if you experience pain, dizziness, or numbness/tingling in you hands, check with your doctor before continuing the exercise.


Active chest stretch

Sitting or standing, gently pinch your shoulder blades together, remembering to keep your chin and tummy tucked in and your shoulders relaxed. Draw your elbows back until you feel a stretch across the front of your shoulders. Hold for 5–10 seconds and then relax. Repeat 5–10 times.

This exercise stretches the chest muscles and the muscles in the front of the shoulder. It strengthens the muscles in the mid-back and shoulder blades and makes the upper back and shoulders more mobile. Furthermore, it helps prevent rounding of the back and shoulders, keeps the ribs flexible, and reduces a forward-leaning head posture. This exercise makes it easier to reach and to turn the head in all directions. It also makes breathing more efficient.


Arm raise and trunk side stretch combination

Sitting or standing, with your tummy and chin tucked in and your shoulders relaxed, raise your right arm out to your side with your palm facing forward. Take your arm up over your head, bend your elbow, and let your hand rest gently on your head. Bend your upper body at the waist down to the left, keeping your body facing forward. Hold for 10–20 seconds. Use your tummy muscles to return to an upright position, straighten your elbow, and bring your arm down to your side. Repeat the exercise with your left arm, this time bending to your right. Repeat 1–3 times on each side.

This exercise works muscles in the back and abdomen. By moving your shoulders through their full sideways range of motion, this exercise prevents stiffness. And by stretching the large and small back muscles, it improves the flexibility and mobility of the spine (which makes reaching, turning, lifting, and bending easier). It also relieves muscle fatigue and makes for more efficient breathing.

Make sure you move only in your pain-free range. If you have shoulder pain or have had shoulder surgery, put your hands on your waist when you do the stretch.


Trunk rotation

Sitting or standing, hold your arms out straight in front of you, with your hands touching. Turn to your right from the waist. Return to starting position and do the same on the left side. Repeat 3–5 times on each side.

This exercise works the large muscles of the lower back, the muscles of the sides, and spinal muscles. It activates the muscle fibers that connect across and between vertebrae in the spine, keeping the spine flexible and helping prevent soft tissue or disk injury. It also helps relieve fatigue and pain in the back and makes the spine more mobile, making it easier to reach, turn, lift, bend, and walk.


Active hamstring stretch

Sit forward on a chair with both feet on the floor, keeping your tummy and chin tucked in. Straighten your right knee, sliding your heel along the floor and pointing your toes up. Lean slightly forward in your hips to feel the stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold the stretch for 10–20 seconds. Return to your starting position and do the stretch on your left side. Repeat 1–3 times on each side.

This exercise stretches the hamstring muscles at the back of your thigh, helping you maintain flexibility and mobility in your hip and knee and keeping your pelvis and lower back aligned. Greater knee mobility helps with walking, lifting, going up or down stairs, and getting up from or down into a chair. This stretch also eases back fatigue and pain and increases spinal mobility, making it easier to bend, lift, and turn.


Hip stretch

In a standing position, hold on to the back of a chair with your right hand, or put your hand on a wall. Move your left foot back, keeping your left knee straight. Bend your right knee to allow your left foot to reach farther back (your left heel should be off the floor). Tighten your left buttock to keep your pelvis and hip facing forward. Feel the stretch in the front of your left hip. Hold for 10–20 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat with your right leg. Repeat 1–3 times on each side.

This exercise stretches your main hip flexor muscle, and this helps maintain hip mobility for going up and down stairs, lifting, bending, and walking. It also improves spine mobility for turning, lifting, and bending. Furthermore, the exercise relieves pain and fatigue in the back and prevents the lower spine from being pulled too far forward, which puts stress on spinal disks.