Workplace Stretching Exercises

For Active Employees | For Office Employees

Here are stretching exercises you can do while on the job. There are two lists to choose from, office environment stretching exercises and active employee stretching exercises. Employees are advised to consult with their health care provider before participating in any physical activity. Also consult your health care provider if you experience any pain or discomfort that concerns you. Pain is a warning signal that something may be wrong. When performing any kind of exercise, be sure to continue to breathe. Your muscles need oxygen to function. If you have other ideas for stretches we can add to this list, send them to Michelle Raethke.

Active employee stretching exercises

Employees that engage in physical activity during work are encouraged to stretch before work to help reduce the chance of strains and injuries. Here are some stretching exercises you can incorporate into your morning routine:

Head and neck

  • Look Right and Left: Stand with your head and neck upright. Turn your head to the right as far as you can, but without using your hands to assist. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Now, do it the same on the left.
  • Side Neck: Standing tall, drop head to one side (right ear to right shoulder) as you reach the left arm out and down getting the most length as possible, hold. Then do other side.
  • Forward Bend: Stand and then bend forward letting gravity pull your head toward the ground. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Also good for the back and hamstrings.
  • Flexion and Extension: Stand or sit with your head and neck upright. Flex your neck forward, tucking your chin in toward the chest. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. If the chin touches the chest, try to reach lower on the chest. Now, extend your next backward, trying to touch the head to the back. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.

Shoulders

  • Shoulder Girdle: Hold the right arm just above the elbow with left hand. Gently pull elbow toward left shoulder and hold. Repeat other side.
  • Shoulder Rolls: Slowly roll shoulders forward 5 times using wide circular motions. Then roll shoulders backward 5 times.
  • Shoulder Shrugs: Raise shoulders towards ears until you feel slight tension. Hold position for 3-5 seconds and release. Repeat.
  • Arm Circles: Circle each arm slowly forward and backward. Try small circle motions and/or large circle motions.

Chest & sides

  • Arms behind the Back: While standing, place both arms behind the back. Interlock your fingers with palms facing each other. Fully straighten your arms and slowly raise them, keeping them straight. Keep your head upright and your neck relaxed. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Side Stretch: Legs are together, reach one arm out to side then up to ceiling, other arm is reaching in opposition down to the floor, this stretches into the side body take 3 deep breathes as you hold this. Each side.

Arms

  • Triceps: Extend your right arm strain up into the air, and bend it at the elbow placing the hand behind your head and onto the middle of your upper back. Use the other hand to grip your right elbow and gently pull the elbow toward your left side. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Don't press neck forward with arms during stretch.
  • Arm extensions: Legs together standing up straight, inhale both arms out to side then up to ceiling, exhale arms down. Repeat 5 times

Back

  • Standing twists: Legs together, arms out to side. Inhale, exhale as you twist to one side. Inhale back to center, exhale over to other side. Keeping hips square to the front, try to only twist in the rib cage. 5X each side
  • Forward Bend: Stand and then bend forward letting gravity pull your head toward the ground. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Also good for the neck and hamstrings.
  • Upper back stretch: While standing, interlock your fingers and position your hand in front of you facing away from your body. Push your hands straight out while curving your back to feel the stretch in your upper back. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Back Extension: Place hands in the hollow of low back. Slowly bend backwards. Repeat as necessary. Keep your knees gently flexed and do not hyperextend your back or head.

Legs

  • Calf Stretch: While standing, place one leg behind you and bend your front knee forward until you feel a stretch in your rear calf muscle. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat for the other side.
  • Forward Bend: Stand and then bend forward letting gravity pull your head toward the ground. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Also good for the neck and back.
  • Quadriceps Stretch: While standing, use a wall or chair to keep your body stable while performing this stretch if necessary. Lift one leg behind you while bending it at the knee. Reach back with your hand on the same side as the lifted leg, and grip your foot behind you. Gently lift up on the foot and extend the lifted leg further behind you to feel the stretch in your Quadriceps muscle. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Office environment exercises

Employees that work in an office environment are encouraged to stretch on a regular basis, even as often as once an hour. If you need a reminder to get up and stretch throughout the day, here is a link for instructions on how to create stretching reminders through Microsoft Outlook. Here are some stretches you can do at your desk.

Head and neck

  • Look Right and Left: Stand with your head and neck upright. Turn your head to the right as far as you can, but without using your hands to assist. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Now, do it the same on the left.
  • Side Neck: Standing tall, drop head to one side (right ear to right shoulder) as you reach the left arm out and down getting the most length as possible, hold. Then do other side.
  • Forward Bend: Stand and then bend forward letting gravity pull your head toward the ground. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Also good for the back and hamstrings.
  • Flexion and Extension: Stand or sit with your head and neck upright. Flex your neck forward, tucking your chin in toward the chest. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. If the chin touches the chest, try to reach lower on the chest. Now, extend your next backward, trying to touch the head to the back. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Chin Nod: Sitting or standing with your head and neck upright, pretend there is a bar running through your ears preventing you from shifting your head backward or forward. Extend the back of your head and neck in an upward motion and then back down 10 times.
  • Sitting Chin: Sitting or standing with your head in an upright position, slide your head forward as far as is comfortable without tilting your head. Then slide your head backward as far as is comfortable without tilting your head. Repeat a total of 10 times both directions.

Shoulders

  • Shoulder Girdle: Hold the right arm just above the elbow with left hand. Gently pull elbow toward left shoulder and hold. Repeat other side.
  • FShoulder Rolls: Slowly roll shoulders forward 5 times using wide circular motions. Then roll shoulders backward 5 times.
  • FShoulder Shrugs: Raise shoulders towards ears until you feel slight tension. Hold position for 3- 5 seconds and release. Repeat.
  • FArm Circles: Circle each arm slowly forward and backward. Try small circle motions and/or large circle motions.

Back

  • Sitting twists: While sitting, twist your upper torso and head to the left and hold for 10 to 30 seconds focusing on being tall. Repeat for the other side.
  • Forward Bend: Stand and then bend forward letting gravity pull your head toward the ground. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Also good for the neck and hamstrings.
  • Upper back stretch: While standing, interlock your fingers and position your hand in front of you facing away from your body. Push your hands straight out while curving your back to feel the stretch in your upper back. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Back Extension: Place hands in the hollow of low back. Slowly bend backwards. Repeat as necessary. Keep your knees gently flexed and do not hyperextend your back or head.

Chest & sides

  • Arms behind the Back: While standing, place both arms behind the back. Interlock your fingers with palms facing each other. Fully straighten your arms and slowly raise them, keeping them straight. Keep your head upright and your neck relaxed. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Side Stretch: Legs are together, reach one arm out to side then up to ceiling, other arm is reaching in opposition down to the floor, this stretches into the side body take 3 deep breathes as you hold this. Each side.

Hands and arms

  • Hand and Finger Stretch: Stretch your fingers wide open, hold briefly, then slowly close them into a fist. Repeat several times.
  • Wrist Stretch: Straighten your arm with the palm up and gradually apply downward and backward pressure against the fingers. Reach over the top of the hand and gently pull the thumb straight back. Repeat with the palm down, pulling the fingers back. Gently pull the thumb straight back.
  • Arm extensions: Legs together standing up straight, inhale both arms out to side then up to ceiling, exhale arms down. Repeat 5 times

Legs

  • Calf Stretch: While standing, place one leg behind you and bend your front knee forward until you feel a stretch in your rear calf muscle. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat for the other side.
  • Foot Rotation: While seated, extend your right foot and leg out in front of you, then rotate the foot one direction and then the other for 5 seconds each directions. Then repeat with the other leg and foot.
  • Forward Bend: Stand and then bend forward letting gravity pull your head toward the ground. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Also good for the neck and back.