5 stretches to do at your desk right now

Hunched over the keyboard too long? Use these yoga-inspired moves you can do right at your desk to stretch out a bit.
Published 6 December 2020

It usually strikes around 3pm: your shoulders get stiff and sore, your eyelids become heavy. All you want to do is curl up for a quick nap. But instead your phone won't stop ringing, and you have a tonne of emails to reply to, meaning you're stuck in front of the screen for a little while longer.

Trade the typical mid-afternoon pick-me-up chocolate bar or iced latte for a little in-your-place stretching. It can shake off the late-afternoon blahs and keep you alert and limber for far longer than a caffeine or sugar buzz might.

These energising stretches are adapted from yoga expert Darrin Zeer. Most of them can be done whenever you have a minute or two—while you restart your computer or in between phone calls—so it doesn't mean squeezing another "to do" into your already-busy schedule.

5 desk stretches

1. Kick-back, log-on pose

How to do it: While sitting at your desk, interlace your fingers behind your head. Relax your elbows and shoulders. Stretch your elbows back and hold for up to 30 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds, and repeat once more.

2. Keyboard calisthenics

How to do it: Place hands in prayer position, wiggle your fingers in all directions and stretch. Then, squeeze fists tight. Next, stretch your fingers wide. Interlace your fingers and rotate hands.

3. Knee-to-head chair stretch

How to do it: While sitting, interlace your fingers below your right knee. Raise your right leg up toward your chest, and then bend your forehead toward your knee. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Switch legs. Repeat once more.

4. Chair twist

How to do it: Cross your left leg over your right. Place your right hand or elbow on the crossed knee. Gently turn your body to the left and look behind you. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Switch legs, and twist the other way. Repeat once more.

5. Lower back bend

How to do it: While standing, grab the edge of your desk or counter, and step back a couple of feet. Spread your feet shoulder-width apart. Let your upper body stretch down, relaxing your head and neck. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Take a 10 minute rest and repeat once more.


Perhaps the easiest and most important energising move of all is to breathe. "With all of our stress, we're literally holding our breath all day," Zeer explains. "By taking a long, deep breath, you'll instantly relax your body and de-stress your mind. You can't beat that."