5 Simple Neck and Shoulder Stretches You Can Do at Your Desk


Female office worker doing a simple neck stretch at her desk

Working at a desk all day can wreak havoc on your neck and shoulders. Sitting or standing for long periods causes stiffness and tension particularly if you have poor posture. There are some stretches that are quick and easy to do at your desk that can relieve neck strain and shoulder pain. 

So, if you’re ready to finish the day strong and enjoy a pain-free evening give these 5 simple neck and shoulder stretches a go!

How to Stretch While Sitting

There are plenty of stretches you can do sitting at your desk throughout the day. While stretching, continue to sit back in your chair so your lower back is supported and keep your feet flat on the floor. If you need to move your arms around for a stretch move your chair away from your desk, so you don't hit your elbows. 

What Stretches Can I Do While Sitting at my Desk?

Any stretch that can be completed while seated and doesn’t require you to place your arms behind your lower back can be done at your desk. 

These five exercises don’t require you to get up from your chair. A few stretching sessions throughout the day can help keep your neck and shoulders from pain and injury.

Stretches for a Sore Neck


#1 Lateral Neck Flexion Stretch

Place your fingers on top of your head and pull your head slightly to the right. 

Once you feel the pull of the muscles in your neck, don’t go any further. Hold for 10-15 seconds and release. 

Take a deep breath and do the same with the other side using your left hand to move your head slightly to the left until you feel the neck muscle pull slightly. 

#2 Forward Flexion Stretch

Similar to the previous exercise but this one is stretching the back of your neck as well as the sides. 

Start by bending your head forward with your chin towards your chest. 

From this downward-facing position move your left ear towards your left shoulder. 

Like the previous stretch, you can use your hand on your head to make the stretch stronger. Hold for 10-15 seconds. 

Look up and repeat on the other side. 

#3 Chin Tuck 

Facing forward lower your chin towards your chest. You should feel a stretch in the back of your neck. 

Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds before slowly returning your head to the forward position. 

Repeat the exercise several times. 

Stretching for Your Shoulders


#4 Shoulder Warm Up

You should move your chair away from your desk for this exercise. 

Interlock your fingers with palms facing out and your arms extended in front of your body at chest height. 

Gently straighten your elbows, holding this position for at least 15 seconds. 

Next, interlock your fingers behind your back with your palms facing out while straightening your elbows. 

Raise your elbows up slightly until you touch the chair back. 

Hold for 15 seconds and repeat. 

#5 Shoulder Rolls

Shoulder rolls are an ideal stretch to do when you are feeling stressed. When we work under stressful conditions, our shoulders naturally lift up towards our head. The tension can lead to aches and pains. Doing a few shoulder rolls when you are stressed can help relieve some tension. 

To do a shoulder roll, lift your shoulders up then back and down in a rotating motion. Remember to take a big breath in and out as you complete the roll.  

Can Sitting at a Desk All Day Cause Neck Pain?

Neck pain from desk jobs is a common complaint amongst office workers.

When you’re concentrating on your work, it’s easy to slip into poor posture with a rounded spine, head craned forward and shoulders pulled up towards your ears. 

Your poor posture can cause neck pain and ongoing injury but with some basic changes, you can fix the problem. 

One cause of neck and shoulder pain is placing your keyboard, mouse or monitor too far away from your body. This makes you sit forward to compensate for the distance, putting your muscles in a constant stretched position. Mouse shoulder exercises can alleviate neck pain when sitting. 

Neck retraction exercises can relieve your neck pain. Tuck your chin in and pretend you are pushing your head back into a headrest then hold for a few seconds before repeating several times. You should feel a little tension at the front and back of your neck during a neck retraction exercise.

How do I Relax My Shoulders at my Desk?

Shoulder pain is common and you might notice it becomes worse when you’re tense or stressed. Your shoulder muscles tighten up when you’re under pressure. 

Release the tension by raising your shoulders to your ears and holding for a few seconds while you breathe in. Release your shoulders as you breathe out. Repeat several times. Squeezing and releasing the muscles in your shoulder with the opposite hand can also provide relief.   

By doing simple neck and shoulder stretches several times a day, you can stop muscles feeling sore or tight and help prevent painful injuries.  

A Good Posture for a Healthy Neck and Shoulders

After completing your neck and shoulder stretches, use the checklist below to ensure you’re sitting in a good posture before you begin work again. Stretches for posture help you maintain the correct seated position throughout the day. Remember, our bodies aren’t designed to sit for long periods so remember to get up out of your chair every hour to move around.

  • Feet flat on the floor
  • Backs of your knees are off the edge of the chair
  • Knees are at the same height or slightly lower than the hips
  • Ankles are in front of the knees
  • The monitor is at an ideal height so you aren’t looking up or down
  • Mouse and keyboard are a comfortable distance so you aren’t stretching to reach
  • Your shoulders are relaxed 
  • Ergonomic desks are ideal because they can be altered to suit your height
  • Choose an ergonomic chair that supports your lower back

Ergonomic Equipment for a Healthy Neck and Shoulders

Many neck and shoulder injuries are caused by cheap office equipment. Constant mouse movements and typing takes its toll. 

Switching to an ergonomic mouse means your hand and arm is in a more natural position. An ergonomic chair lets you to adjust it to suit your body rather than adjusting your body’s position to suit your chair. 

Finally, a sit stand desk lets you adjust your body’s posture throughout the day to avoid prolonged periods of sitting or standing.   

Neck and shoulder stretches can improve a worker’s comfort level and productivity. Combining regular in-chair stretches with moving throughout the workday will go a long way to avoiding a musculoskeletal injury.  

If you have any queries about office ergonomics, visit the Ergolink showroom, or call us on (08) 9240 7066 or contact us online.