Stretches to try at your desk

If you get tight and achy in your shoulders and upper back, then in this blog we go through 3 simple desk stretches you can do while sitting, to help relieve some of that tension.

Postures that can increase tension:

Other factors that can contribute to tight and painful upper back and shoulders are:

  • Sitting/standing too long at a desk
  • Scrolling/ texting on your phone
  • Poor posture
  • Driving long hours
  • Reading
  • Breastfeeding

Why does tension develop?

We often find that our shoulder and upper back pain and tightness is related to excess time spent sitting. This can cause muscles like your trapezius muscle to become very tight and tense and cause other soft tissue structures in your upper back to become weak and easily fatigued

Try these 3 Desk Stretches:

It is difficult to avoid long periods of sitting throughout our day, so it is important to make sure you get some good mobility into this area and stretch out your tight trap muscles. Give these exercises a go and see if you get some relief from your upper back and shoulder tightness!

1.Shoulder Rolls

  • Sit up straight in your desk chair with your feet flat on the floor
  • Slowly bring your shoulders up and roll them backwards, making big circles
  • Repeat this movement 10 times
  • Try and keep the movements slow and continuous and aim to increase the size of the circle with each roll

2.Shoulder Blade Squeezes

  • Sit up straight in your desk chair with your feet flat on the floor
  • Make sure your ears, shoulders and hips are in line with each other
  • Bring your arms up to shoulder height, elbows bent
  • Slowly bring your arms back, squeezing your shoulder blades together
  • Hold in this position for 10 seconds
  • Return to the starting position and repeat 5 -7 times

3.Upper Trapezius Stretch

  • Sit up straight in your desk chair with your feet flat on the floor
  • Bring your head back so that your ears are in line with your shoulders
  • Place one hand so it is holding your chair or gently sit on your hand
  • Draw your head away from the hand holding the chair, aiming for your ear to fall as close to your shoulder as you can get it
  • With your free hand, rest it on top of your head to add a gentle weight or apply a gentle pressure to increase the stretch
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds then repeat on the opposite side


Lisa Smycz, chiropractor 

If you would like to know more about what ideal posture looks like, then CLICK HERE.  

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