Ergonomic Articles

9 Easy stretches that relieve pain and tension at work

By Jana Zuidema (Bsc Physio) | Added 2015-07-27


Here are a series of stretches that you can do during the day or after a long day at work to help alleviate and prevent the pain and discomfort from sitting all day. 


1: The Cervical Extensors Stretch


When working too far from your computer screen or if it is placed too low or too high, it forces us to uncomfortably stick out our chins. This often causes headaches and painful neck strain which can be relieved by this effective stretch.


This stretch is best done in the shower or after soaking in a bath when your muscles are warm and relaxed. Alternatively using a heating pad or bean bag is sufficient. Make sure you are seated in a straight upright position and gently tuck your chin into your chest. Then slowly pull your head forward and hold for a few seconds. Do this three times. You should feel a gentle relieving stretch and experience no pain.


3: The Rhomboids and Lat Stretch

If you have sore and tight shoulder blade muscles, then this stretch is for you. It is best to do it when your muscles are relaxed and warm - such as after a bath or in the shower.


Holding your hands together, fingers locked, stretch both arms forward in front of you. Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds and do it three times. You should feel this stretch between your shoulder-blades and outer arms.


4: The upper trap stretch

Stress is a big cause of upper shoulder tension. So is having your office chair too low or too high as this forces your body to hunch over in order to reach your keyboard. This is the ideal stretch to counteract the discomfort that you may feel.


Do this stretch after a bath or the shower when your muscles are warm and relaxed. To do it, sit with a straight upright posture and then using one hand, pull your head slowly and softly towards your shoulder. You should feel the stretch from your opposite shoulder up your neck. Do this stretch three times on both sides, holding the stretch for 20 seconds on each side.


5: The Pectoral Muscle Stretch


This stretch is the perfect quick fix for chest or pec muscle tension. Hold this stretch by placing your hands behind your head. Then, move your elbows back slowly until you feel a gentle stretch in your chest.


5: The shoulder and Lat Stretch


This stretch is to relieve tension in your shoulders and your lats. First raise your arms towards the sky and make sure your hands are interlocked. Then, reach up until you feel the stretch in your fingers and down your arms.


6: The Rhomboid Stretch


This simple stretch is a good way to relieve tension in the muscles in the back of your shoulders and the area between your shoulder-blades.


To do it effectively, keep your arm horizontally in line with your shoulders and then pull one arm across your chest. Alternate arms so that you stretch and get relief on both sides. 


7: The Glute Stretch


In today’s workplace structure, due to modern technologies such as email and IM, we spend most of our day seated. This is a perfect stretch to relieve tension in your sitting muscles.


When seated in your chair, place your right leg onto your left, by lining up the ankle of one leg, with the knee of the other. Now, push down on your bent knee until you feel your glutes stretch. By bending forward you will be able to get a better stretch. Do this three times on each side and hold each stretch for 30 seconds each time.


8: The Glut and ITB Stretch


If you want to relieve body stress, this quick stretch works on the glues and the ITB muscles.


Easy to do, cross one leg over the other and pull the knee of the crossed leg towards the opposite shoulder. Keep pushing slowly until you feel the stretch in the muscle on the outside of your thigh and hold for half a minute on each side. Do this three times.


:9: The Hamstring Stretch


The last stretch will relieve tightness in your hamstring muscles. This stretch can be easily achieved by moving to the edge of your office chair and then bending one leg and straightening the other. Next, bend at the hips moving forward and over - being careful not to strain your lower back. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds on each side and repeat three times with each leg.


There you have it, 9 stretches that will relax the body and help with pain and tension. Remember to always consult a physiotherapist or doctor if the pain is severe or consistent. 

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