The 5 Crucial Stretches to Keep Your Body Loose and Healthy in Your Work-From-Home Office

By Annie Burdick

For the many people currently living the work-from-home office life, there are some perks and some drawbacks. On the one hand, you have access to your kitchen to make yourself a healthy lunch every day, can wear whatever comfy clothes you want, and maybe take a nice walk on your breaks. But on the downside, it’s very possible that sitting in your less-than-ergonomic home office chair for hours on end is doing a number on your back, neck, shoulders, and even legs and hips. Your posture is likely suffering, your muscles might be sore, and you may notice effects like increased headaches and fatigue as a result of these things. 

So, to keep your body feeling energized, healthy, and less sore–even without having to take a break for a workout or walk–physical therapist Carol Stillman has provided several recommendations for her favorite stretches you can do right in your home office, whether between emails or Zoom calls. Stillman, PT, DPT, is the founder of Sutton Place Physical and Aquatic Therapy, and a verified expert in what the body needs to be in peak functioning condition. Here are some of her most highly recommended work-from-home stretches:

1. Chest Stretches with a Chair

As with most of these, your office chair is even a part of the stretch! Start in a kneeling position facing your chair, from about two feet away. Leaning forward, rest your arms on the chair, with your back as straight as possible, like a table. Then, without arching your back, bend forward from your hips, lowering your trunk toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold for several seconds and repeat a few times. 

2. Seated Hip Flexor Stretch

Again, using your office chair, begin sitting in an upright position, with a good posture. Move to one side of the chair and extend the leg on that side to the back. Gently rock your pelvis forward to feel a stretch in your hip. Keep your back as straight as possible while doing so. After doing this on one side, move to the other side and repeat. 

3. Back and Chest Extension Stretch

Start sitting in your office chair with a straight back and your hands behind your head.  Slowly arch your back (over the chair if needed), letting your elbows fall out to the sides. As they do this, you should feel a stretch in your chest, while your back is stretching as well. It’s important to keep the movements slow and intentional for this stretch. 

4. Standing Hip Flexor Stretch with Chair

Place your chair in front of you this time, and stand facing it. Place one foot on the chair, leaving the other foot on the ground a comfortable distance away. Keep your back straight, head and shoulders facing forward, and do not arch your back. Slowly shift your weight forward toward the chair, feeling the stretch on the leg still on the ground. Alternate legs and repeat the stretch. 

5. Wall Angels

Start in a seated position with your back straight against a wall. Your legs can be crossed or in another comfortable position you prefer. Retract your neck slightly to align yourself properly against the wall. Place your arms against the wall behind you, in L-shapes, with the back of your hands touching the wall. Slowly straighten out your arms, sliding them along the wall as you do so, then lower them back down, positioning your arms as though putting your elbows in your back pockets. Do not stick your chin out, arch your back, or shrug your shoulders as you do so.