woman stretching as she's sitting

Stretching Exercises for People Who Sit All Day

There’s a new saying out there – sitting is the new cancer. The reason? Sitting at a desk all day without taking time to get up, walk around, do some stretching – can lead to a whole host of health problems. These health issues include obesity, heart disease, and damage to your bones, muscles and joints.

While it may not seem very likely that you are doing damage to your body, you’d be surprised by how detrimental sitting at a desk all day can be. Everything from the repetitive movements involved in answering a phone all day, or poor ergonomics as you type at a computer terminal all day, to generally poor posture, can lead to problems. If your muscles and ligaments stay in one position for too long, the tissues become “relaxed,” reducing their elasticity and integrity!

woman holding sore neckSome of the most common conditions that we see at our Vancouver chiropractic clinic, that result from being a person who sits at a desk for eight hours a day working on a keyboard include carpal tunnel syndrome, forward head syndrome, and poor posture. All of these conditions will continue to get worse if you don’t take steps to beat them. Your neck, back, shoulders, and hips should all be stretched out at least once per day during your work hours. Also, frequent micro breaks of standing up or changing position can help prevent the tissues from losing integrity. This will keep them working properly and help to prevent painful conditions in the future.

One of the simplest things you can do to remedy and even ward off such health conditions, are simple stretches, right in your office!

Below are some very simple yet highly effective stretching exercises you can do right in your office. If you take the time to perform each of these at least once a day, you’ll feel the benefits!

man doing shoulder circles exerciseman doing shoulder exerciseShoulder Shrug and Release

  1. Stand with your feet a hip width apart, with arms straight by your sides.
  2. Bend your knees slightly.
  3. Shrug your shoulders towards the ceiling as high as they’ll go, and hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Lower your shoulders back down.
  5. Repeat the above steps 6 times.



man doing a shoulder stretching exerciseside view of shoulder stretchingShoulder Circles

  1. Stand with your feet a hip width apart, with arms straight by your sides.
  2. Bend your knees slightly.
  3. Gently and slowly roll your shoulders forward, backwards, up and down.
  4. Reverse direction and again gently and slowly roll your shoulders forward, backwards, up and down.
  5. Repeat the above steps 6 times.

Note – you can perform this stretch one shoulder at a time if that is more comfortable for you.


chiropractor doing lungesLunges

  1. Kneeling on both knees with your hips extended and back straight
  2. Step your right foot forward
  3. Ensuring your right knee does not go further than your right toe, lean your whole body forward into the stretch while keeping your back straight and driving the left hip forward
  4. Feel the stretch across the front of the left thigh/groin area
  5. Repeat with left foot forward.
  6. Repeat the above steps 6 times.



chiropractor doing a cat stretch exercisechiropractor doing a cat stretch exerciseCat – Camel Stretch

  1. Position yourself on the floor on all fours with your back flat.
  2. Arch your back up towards the ceiling and let your head dangle towards the floor
  3. Hold for 25 seconds.
  4. Return to position number 1.
  5. Push your tummy down towards the floor with your head and your buttocks lifting up towards the ceiling
  6. Hold for 25 seconds.
  7. Repeat the above steps 6 times.


woman in chair performing brueggers exercise and stretch woman in chair performing brueggers exercise and stretch side viewBrueggers Relief Position

  1. While sitting in a chair, perch just on the edge of the chair.
  2. Ensure your spine is straight and your head is upright.
  3. Spread your legs a hip width apart.
  4. Turn your feet slightly outward.
  5. While resting most of your weight on your legs and feet, allow your abs to relax.
  6. Tilt your pelvis forward.
  7. Holding your arms at your side with elbows at 90°, turn your hands palm-side up.
  8. Turn arms outward, opening up the front of the shoulders
  9. Tuck your chin and press the base of your skull backwards
  10. Hold this position and take 10 deep breaths.
  11. Release and return to your normal position.
  12. Repeat the above steps 6 times.


woman doing a pec stretchPec stretchwoman stretching pecs

  1. Stand against a wall with your spine straight.
  2. Raise your right arm 90° to your body, with the elbow also at 90° and place your forearm on wall, with the palm of your hand on the wall
  3. Gently and slowly turn your body away from the wall until you feel a slight stretch across the chest.
  4. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  5. Return arm to normal position.
  6. Repeat the above steps with your left arm.
  7. Repeat the above steps 6 times.

Treat Your Body Right!

By performing these exercises recommended by our chiropractors and stretches, you will be treating your body right, and keeping it working. This will relieve stress and tension, and strengthen your body which will help in the long run. To get started, choose a time each day when you have 15 minutes or so to do these exercises. As you get better at them, you can begin increasing the number of repetitions you do each day. As well, you can also choose to do this routine several times each day. The more the better!

Another important thing to do if you have a desk job, along with the exercises listed above, is to simply get up and walk around for a few minutes, each and every hour. This alone, can make a huge difference in how your body feels.

You can also swap out your work chair for an exercise ball, or even a standing desk. An exercise ball makes an excellent work chair, because as you work, your body will constantly be using all of your muscles, in particular your core muscles.

Standing desks are fast becoming the most popular style of desk. Not only will a standing desk help to improve your posture, but it will ensure that you are always aware of how your body feels.

Get Active

For many of us, sitting at a desk for eight hours each day is simply a part of life, and not something we would consider detrimental to our health. The fact is, those who live a sedentary lifestyle that includes a desk job, the risks of developing serious health conditions are very real. Make time for some simple stretching each day, and the rewards will be tenfold.

If you have any questions or comments, one of our Vancouver chiropractors are ready to assist you!


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