Perfect stretches for your un-ergonomic home office

Wherever it happens, work shouldn’t be a pain in the neck

Once, we might have thought it was a pain having to go into the office. Now that many of us have had to try to re-create the work environment at home, aching backs, necks and wrists suggest that we had it pretty good.

Since it’s likely impossible to get all the kinks out of your ad hoc office set-up, we suggest working them out of your body instead. Courtesy of NAIT’s health and safety team as well as fitness programming staff, here are stretches to do just that. Work shouldn’t be a pain in the neck, no matter where it’s done.

Neck and shoulders

neck and shoulders stretchThe neck relaxer (left and centre) is a great way to break tension and can improve blood flow and loosen up shoulders. Sit at the edge of your chair with your feet on the ground. Extend your arms downward. Drop your head slowly to the right, bringing your right ear to your right shoulder. Hold for five seconds then switch to the left.

Shoulder shrugs (right) help too. Stand up and raise your shoulders to your ears until you feel slight tension. Hold for three to five seconds then relax. Do this two or three times.

Shoulders and chest

neck and shoulders stretchStretch your chest and shoulders with this simple move. While standing, glide your head straight back without lifting your chin. You should have the feeling of a double chin. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat five to 10 times.

Shoulders and back

shoulders and back stretches

To release tension in the back of the shoulder (left), start by placing your feet flat on the floor. Put one arm across the body then hug it in with the other arm, applying pressure above the elbow. Breathe in and out to relax the body. Repeat on the other side.

Stretch your spine (centre) by extending your arms upward and gently reaching to one side. Continue to reach upwards as you do. Take a few breaths to stretch the muscles between your ribs. Repeat on the other side.

To reduce tension in the back and down through your legs, stay seated and slowly lift one leg. Grasp your shin with both hands. Bend forward, pointing your nose to your knee. Be sure to bend through your upper back. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

Shoulders alone

shoulder stretchesRelieve shoulder tension by extending an arm, palm down. Hold for a few seconds, then rotate to bring your palm up. Hold for a few seconds then repeat on the other side.

Hands and fingers

hand and finger stretches

Improve strength and mobility by raising your hand at the side of your head and making a fist. Keep your thumb outside of it. Slide your fingers upward until you feel a stretch. Repeat with the other hand.

Hands and wrists

hand and wrist stretches

To stretch your wrists and forearms, grasp the fingers of one hand (left) and slowly bend your wrist down until you feel a stretch. Hold for three to five seconds then relax. Repeat three times. Then, repeat with a slow upward bend of the wrist to the point of gentle stretch (right). Hold three to five seconds and relax.

Stretch both hands and wrists with the praying position (centre). With palms together, bring your elbows together too. Your hands and arms should touch from the tips of your fingers to your elbows. Then, slowly spread your elbows apart while lowering your hands to waist height. Stop when your hands are in front of your belly button or you feel the stretch. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds, then repeat.


leg stretchesSit forward on your chair so that your back isn’t touching the chair back. Place feet flat on the floor. Extend a straight leg and lift it a few inches off the floor. Hold momentarily then return your foot to the floor. Repeat with the other leg.

Follow along with Amy: A four-stretch routine

From the comfort of her own home, health and wellness coordinator Amy Eversley (Personal Fitness Trainer ’10) offers this routine as the antidote to spending too many hours in your new “office” chair.

“You can repeat this a few times throughout the day,” says Eversley. Give it a shot and it just might make your home more comfortable, too.

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