Back Exercises at Your Desk

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If your back gets tight by sitting in a chair all day long, I feel your pain.

Let’s take a look at some simple stretches you can do at work to help loosen up your back. 

yoga pose

Finger Interlock Stretch

The old trusted upper back stretch is my go to for loosening up my shoulders at my work space. 

It opens up your shoulder blades and gets the blood flowing.

finger interlock stretch

Interlock your fingers and push your palms away from you while straightening your arms. This will put gradual pressure on your back. 

You should feel this between your shoulder blades and below the base of your neck. I usually do this for one good stretch a couple times a day if I’m feeling tightness in my back. 

If you’re lucky you get to hear some nice cracks when you pull your shoulders back. (the payoff)

The Chair Twist

The twisty turn in the chair is a great way to hit your obliques and target the sides of your back.

For this you simply want to hold on to one side of your chairs arms, and turn that way slowly. Then do the reverse for the other side.

A common mistake people make when doing this is to apply torque and tension while twisting. It makes for a great cacophony of back cracks, but those cracks are a signal that you’re really twisting your spine.

I say do it gently, and avoid applying too much pressure. 

Sky Highs

Imagine there is a balloon floating  above your head that you want to reach. 

Fully extend your arms, and then extend them a little more. At this point you should be feeling a great stretch in your shoulders. 

straight arm stretch

I do these to loosen up the tension that I feel in my shoulders, as that’s where most of it is stored for me. 

A variation to this could be to use each arm individually. Grasp at the imaginary balloon and the stretch should go from just hitting your shoulders, to getting the sides a little bit as well.


Bobble Head Stretch

If you’re feeling tense in your mid to lower back, give the bobble head stretch a try.

For this, we’re going to place both hands on the back of our head and just lean side to side lightly for about 20 reps. 

It loosens up my sides and even hits my abs slightly if I keep them flexed throughout. Plus, you get to pretend you’re your favorite sports players bobble head. Role-playing in action.  

Climb the Rope

Today in the mime world we’re going to use our imagination and picture an invisible rope in front of us. 

For this stretch, you’re simply going to climb the rope while keeping your back straight. This should hit nearly all the muscles by your mid to upper spine. 

Honestly, this is one of my favorite stretches ever. If you are able to stand up, you can lean against a wall and try the same thing. You’ll find yourself standing a little straighter as it’s great for posture. 

Imaginary Ball Twist

Put your hands in front of you and imagine you’re holding on to a medicine ball. Right now, do that.

You’ll probably notice that you flexed your mid section a little bit. We want to hold on to this tension and twist from side to side.

This is going to hit your abdominal more than anything, but they’re important for your posture and giving your back support.

Try 1 set of 20 of these and see how you like them. Adjust to what suits you best. They do look kind of silly, I’ll give you that. But, they work. 

Foam Roller(for home stretching)

It’s not possible for most people to be using a foam roller at work, unless your boss is awesome.

But, I definitely recommend it if you want to break up any tension you’re holding in your back. 

It’s one of the best ways to evenly apply pressure to an area. If you can, when you’re at home just lay on a foam roller and hit your sore spots.

I would buy one that isn’t too hard at first, until you get used to it. Some people with more strength than me actually use tennis balls to roll on.

That seems very painful! But, it works for them. For you, just give a regular roller a shot and see if it can help loosen up those stiff muscles. 

Further Thoughts

I hope you found some stretches in here to help your back at work.

The best thing you can do for your back is probably a foam roller in my experience. But, any stretch is going to help somewhat. 

Remember that your posture is important too! If this article helped you, let me know. I like to hear from my readers and see what worked 🙂

Author Picture - Conor


Hey everyone 🙂 My name is Conor. I'm passionate about technology, zen, and improving the quality of life so many of us share at a desk!

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