Quick And Easy Stretches To Do At Your Workstation

by Dr. Wendy Schauer, D.C., R.K.C. on April 12, 2012

In my last blog post I showed you what bad computer posture looked like and what it could lead to over time.  I had a new patient in today who, unfortunately, was a perfect example of what I wrote about in that post.  There was prolonged computer use with the shoulders and head forward that led to neck degeneration and a pinched nerve.  The neurologist is hoping I will be able to restore some of the neck and upper back motion to reduce the pressure on the nerve. 

If you have poor computer posture I am urging you to do at least one of these stretches during the day.  The first picture is the pectoral/chest stretch that I recommend the most.  You just bring your arms behind you and clasp your hands together.  You then roll your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together.  Hold for a count of 20-30 then release.  Do this stretch 3-5 times per day.

Sitting Chest Stretch

If your shoulders are too tight to bring your arms back then try this stretch in the corner or doorway.  Lean into the corner or doorway and hold for a count of 20-30 and do it 3-5 times per day.  You don’t want to lean in too far and over stretch your shoulders or chest muscles.  Farther is not always better.  I have had a couple of people strain their chest muscles and think they were having a heart attack.  Slow and steady wins the posture race.

Doorway Stretch

My favorite exercise to give is to WIGGLE.  Yes, you read this right.  Wiggle, but in a very specific way.  Start by making sure you are sitting upright then roll your shoulders backward and down in a circular motion.  Once you can get both shoulders rolling around then you will do one at a time. Left, right, left, right quickly. Now you are wiggling.  It is like a massage to your spine.  Most of my patients will sit for hours without moving and wiggling 20 seconds every hour will put motion in the shoulders and upper back.

The last quick exercise I give is a stability exercise for the upper back.  You will need a wall for this one.  Stand with your back to a wall with your head, shoulders, rear end and heels touching the wall.  Now bring your arms up like a goal post.  You want to be able to touch your wrists to the wall.  If your shoulders are really slumped foward your ams may be off the wall a ways.  Don’t force them back or you will strain your shoulders.  Just do the exercise where they are.  You are going to try to squeeze your elbows to your back pockets.  You should  feel the muscles in your upper and middle back tensing.  Do this exercise three times per day.

Position #1 Of Wall Exercise


Position #2 Of Wall Exercise

I recommend that you do some sort of movement every hour.  The time when I stretch is when I am reading a document, that way my hands are free and can I stretch away.  My job puts me in a hunched over posture so I do pectoral stretches 5-10 times per day.        
Happy Stretching!                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Dr. Wendy    
Dan April 12, 2012 at 10:03 PM

Wonderful – another zealot for stretching – I’m a huge fan of the doorway stretch!

Kevin Hogan April 12, 2012 at 10:28 PM

This reminds me of pressing my hands on either side of a doorway for 60 seconds, and then moving out of the doorway with my hands steadily stretching out, without me doing anything.

Thank you for the advice, Wendy!

Definitely something I should pay attention to.

Mark Hogan

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Michael D Walker April 12, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Thank you for posting the stretching exercises to do for our back and shoulders. Any chance you could do short videos on how to properly do these? I’m not sure I entirely understand the one with your heels and back touching the wall.



Thorne Smith Expert

Cherie Miranda April 12, 2012 at 11:04 PM

Excellent advice and explained well! Thanks, Wendy!

Cherie Miranda
Even the US Marine Corps Has Studied Meditation

Body language of relationships April 13, 2012 at 12:16 AM

Dr. Wendy could you show how to stretch after sitting in a chair for a long time for a person who may have back injuries?

Scott Sylvan Bell
Body language of disgust
Now go implement!

Suzanne Laramoe April 13, 2012 at 9:26 AM

I have to remember to start doing this!
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Sabrina April 13, 2012 at 10:33 AM

I’ll have to recommend wiggling to my clients along with the stretches I tell them to do several times a day!

Sabrina Peterson, NASM CPT, CES
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Sonya Lenzo April 13, 2012 at 10:51 AM

I was giggling by the time I was done wiggling…glad no one else could see me! I think the very fact that it HURT to do these excercises my prove that I am a wee bit tight and have been on the computer too long today. THANKS for the excercises!
Sonya Lenzo

Clare Delaney April 13, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Thanks for the explanation of these important exercises at our workstations.

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G.E. Moon II April 13, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Great pictures and videos. Keep the posts coming.

Yours In Health!

G.E. Moon II

Neil Dhawan April 13, 2012 at 12:12 PM

THANK YOU, Dr. Wendy!

These stretches are great – rather than simply “rolling the shoulders” – Being a visual person, I really appreciate you having pictures and video available.

To a Life of Success, Neil
Successful Life – Getting Clear

Eva Palmer April 13, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Hi doctor Wendy!
Your videos are very nice! I enjoy watching them becasue you explain very easily easy things that I can do to improve my health!

Elimina la Ansiedad

Margarita April 13, 2012 at 4:54 PM

this is exactly what I needed to read today. I am in front of the computer all day long. From time to time I need to strech. That’s where I will implment your information.
Thank you

Lyle R. Johnson April 13, 2012 at 6:18 PM

Thanks, I need to do several of your exercises right now.

Don’t know why my nose gets so close to the screen … and can see it well with good posture; it just seems to be pulling me in.

Sort of a Rod Serling moment.


Shane Aric April 14, 2012 at 9:16 AM

This information si so good and so relevant!
I always try to do some stretches but sometimes I get so wrapped up in what I am doing that a few hours fly by.

Thanks for the reminder and all the useful tips to make it both easier and more exciting!

Getting to Yes

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