Best desk stretches for WFH aches and pains

The best ways to ward off the aches and pains of working from home
  • 01 Aug - 07 Aug, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold (yup, still here, folks!), for many people, returning to the office anytime soon still seems like an unlikely prospect. And while the perma-WFH setup certainly comes with perks – no need to dress up for work, more QT with pets, unlimited snack access – it can also take a toll on your body.

Ahead, we share the best desk stretches to help bring some relief to your achy, breaky bod.

World's greatest stretch

If you could only do one stretch ever, this would be it. It opens up your back, hips, ankles, legs, and shoulders, you'll feel it in all these spots. Try doing this full-body stretch anytime you get up from your desk; per the name, it can be an incredibly beneficial full-body stretch for anyone, WFH aches and pains asides.

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart and come into a deep runner's lunge, bringing left leg forward and bent at 90-degrees, the right leg straight with the knee off the floor.

B. Place the right hand flat on the floor in line with the left heel.

C. Twist torso open to the left and reach left arm up to the sky. Hold for about five seconds.

D. Bring left hand down to the inside of left shin, dropping elbow toward the floor; stay there for five seconds. Twist open and reach to the sky again to begin the next rep.

Do 15 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

The hinge

Believe it or not, you need strong hips and glutes to sit comfortably for long periods of time. With this exercise, you're building strength in the hips and will feel a stretch into the hamstrings.

A. Stand in a neutral position with feet hip-width apart and arms by sides.

B. Slightly bend knees and hinge forward at hips while simultaneously raising arms overhead until they're in line with ears, arms and torso parallel to the floor. You should feel tension in the quads and a stretch in the hamstrings and glutes.

C. Hold for about five seconds, then squeeze glutes to stand and lower arms to sides.

Do three sets of 10 reps daily.

Seated thoracic extension

Make the most of all the time you're stuck sitting by using the back of your chair to help realign posture and prevent neck and shoulder pain. Feeling tight in these areas right now? This passive desk stretch can help ease already-present aches and pains, too.

A. Staying seated, scoot butt all the way to back of chair and place hands behind head. Feet should be flat on the ground, legs bent at 90-degrees. Inhale deeply.

B. Exhale and lean back over the chair, focusing on lifting chest to the sky rather than collapsing backward.

C. Hold for about five seconds (about five deep breaths). Slowly return to start.

Do 10 reps.

Wall lay

Sure, you could consider this a stretch, but really it's more of a restorative pose. (You might know it as "legs up the wall" from yoga class.) It's rare that our legs are ever above the heart for extended periods of time. Elevating them in this way increases circulation throughout the body, and more blood flow is essential for helping our bodies heal and achy muscles recover. It's also a nice stretch and release if you have lower back pain. Try starting and ending your workday with this move.

A. Lie down on floor and scoot butt to be directly against the wall.

B. Extend and straighten legs up the wall.

C. Hold for two to five minutes. (Yes, it's that easy.)

Do two sets; one before work, one after.

Wrist stretch

Constant typing both on computers and phones can lead to wrist issues and poor grip strength. These quickie moves help counteract that.

A. Start kneeling with legs together. Place hands on the floor in front of knees with palms facing up and fingertips pointing toward thighs.

B. Lean back slightly, putting weight onto hands, using bodyweight to increase the stretch (the more pressure put on the hands, the deeper the stretch).

C. Gently rock back and forth for 30 seconds.

Repeat for each of the following positions:

• Palms up, fingertips pointing toward one another.

• Palms down, fingertips pointing away from each other.

• Palms down, fingertips pointing toward knees.

Standing hip flexor stretch

Long hours spent sitting can leave your legs and hips feeling tight and compressed, says Pham. Try this hip flexor stretch at the end of the day to help open everything up. (FYI: You should feel a stretch through the front of your back leg, into the hip, and possibly even in your core or chest.)

A. Stand with one leg in front of the other, about shoulder-width distance apart. Tighten glutes and tuck pelvis.

B. Keeping back leg straight, slowly bend front leg and lunge forward. You should feel a stretch across the front of the hip on the back leg. (If not, try separating feet another few inches.)

C. Extend arms overhead, next to ears. Hold for five seconds, then lower arms.

Do 10 reps. Switch side; repeat.