Flexibility exercises for office workers: 7 easy lower back stretches you can do sitting or standing at your desk

Flexibility exercises for office workers: 7 easy lower back stretches you can do sitting or standing at your desk

Do you suffer from lower back pain? Tight hips from sitting all day? Hamstrings so tight you can’t touch your toes? Sitting in front of a computer every day can wreak havoc on your body.  This lack of variation, along with hunching the shoulders and an uncomfortable chair, can cause back pain, headaches, tension, and tightness in your back, neck, and shoulders.

Whether you have one of all of these symptoms, now is the time to do something about it. Lower back stretches at work can help!

Studies show that regular stretching can help reduce neck and shoulder pain. Plus, regular breaks to stand and stretch increase productivity. Flexibility breaks allow your eyes to rest and your entire body to feel more comfortable.

The following flexibility exercises focus on the lower back. Do them as often as you can and you’ll notice less tightness and maybe even more productivity.

  • Set an alarm to go off every 45 to 55 minutes and perform the stretches as shown.
  • Hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds.
  • Avoid any exercises that cause pain or discomfort.
  • Do as many reps as you can and enjoy!

Standing Stretches

Standing is one of the best ways of reducing the risk of back pain at work. Even if you have to sit for most of the day, it helps to take breaks to stand and walk around. While you’re standing, you can try these two stretches to reduce pressure in your lower spine and improve your flexibility.

Photo by Israel Andrade on Unsplash

1. Standing Trunk Extension Stretch

  • Stand with your feet shoulders width apart.
  • Place your hands in the small of your back for support.
  • Slowly lean backward increasing the arch of your lower back until you feel a mild stretch in the abdominal muscles and slight pressure in the lower back.
  • You can perform this as a static stretch by holding for 15-20 seconds, then repeating it 3-5 times per session.
  • To perform this as an active range of motion exercise, hold for only a few seconds, but perform 10 repetitions per session.

2. Standing Quadriceps/Hip Flexor Stretch

  • While standing, hold onto your desk for support and put one foot up on a chair behind you.
  • Depending on your flexibility, you can place the foot on the seat, arm, or back of the chair.
  • Make sure that the foot on the ground is pointed forward with the knee bend slightly.
  • Slowly push your pelvis forward while contracting your glutes.
  • You should feel a stretch on the front of your hip and thigh.
  • Hold this position for 15-20 seconds, then repeat 3-5 times on each side.

Sitting Stretches

Sitting is the most common position for most office workers. As mentioned above, standing and taking breaks will help reduce your low back strain and risk for injury. However, there are a few exercises that you can do while sitting to improve pain and flexibility.

3. Seated Lateral Trunk Stretch

  • While in a seated position, raise one arm over your head.
  • Place your other hand on your thigh for support.
  • Slowly bend to the opposite side until you feel a comfortable stretch along the side of your trunk.
  • Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds, then repeat 3-5 times on each side.

4. Seated Knee to Chest Stretch

  • While sitting in a chair, raise one knee as if you are marching until you can reach it with your hands.
  • Use both hands to pull the bent knee up toward your chest until you feel a gentle stretch in the lower back and back of the hip.
  • Your hands can be on top of your knee or behind your knee for comfort.
  • Hold this position for 15-20 seconds, then repeat 3-5 times on each side.

5. Seated Hamstring Stretch

  • While seated, rest your heel on the floor with your knee straight.
  • Gently lean forward until a stretch is felt behind your knee/thigh.
  • You should keep your low back straight to focus the stretch on the hamstring muscles.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, then repeat 3-4 times on each leg.

6. Seated Figure 4 Stretch

  • Seated in a chair, cross one leg on top of the other so that your ankle is sitting over the opposite knee.
  • Place one hand on the knee of the crossed leg.
  • Gently lean your trunk forward while pressing gently on the crossed knee until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in the hip and buttock area.
  • Hold the stretch for 15-20 seconds, then repeat 3-5 times on each side.

7. Toe Touch

A great stretch for the lower back and hamstrings and can be done seated or standing!

When the hamstrings are tight they start to pull on the muscles of the lower back and create tension and/or pain. Start by taking off your jacket to allow yourself some relaxation. 

Begin in a standing position and slowly hinge at the hips reaching for the toes. Try to keep the spine long and not round at the shoulders. Take five deep breaths here.

Try doing this (or any low back stretch) before an important meeting or presentation, you’ll be surprised by how much this lower back stretch at work can help calm stressful feelings. 

All of these low back stretches can easily be implemented into your daily workday routine. Whether you spend most of your time sitting or standing, you might experience episodes of back pain while working. Changing positions, taking breaks, and walking are still great ways to relieve strain, but doing the stretches will improve your flexibility and reduce your risk for back pain.

Would you like to help your whole team stretch?

At Good Stretch, we’ve seen the impact that working from home has had on many people. Therefore, we’ve been working with organisations to help them take care of their health and wellbeing by taking regular breaks from their desk and finding time to stretch.

We’ve been holding corporate Zoom stretch sessions to help office workers beat the Zoom fatigue by participating in something light, fun and interactive. We’ve developed sessions specifically tailored to people with busy working days so you can try our fun stretching classes for officer workers in your lunch break.

If you’re interested in joining a free taster session or bringing our Good Stretch Zoom sessions to your organisation, please get in touch – team@goodstretch.uk, we’d love to help!

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