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posture exercises

5 Posture Exercises For Preventing Desk Injuries

Sitting is the new smoking! You may have heard this phrase being thrown around in the media these days and it’s true! Except that it applies to ANY static posture. Yup, that standing desk that you have is no good if you can’t lower it to sit and change its positions multiple times throughout the day.
What this means is that when the body is still for too long, it can cause increased stress hormones, postural strain, decreased muscle mass, increased cholesterol, obesity, etc, which lead to ailments in the long run that are worse for you than smoking cigarettes!

Here are a few tips and posture exercises to help you avoid these ailments!

Take breaks and change positions EVERY 20 MINUTES
Whether you go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, grab a fax, grab a snack, go talk to your colleague in person, change the height of your desk to standing and vice versa, you need to get up and move as much as possible!

Check your desk set up!

Proper desk posture

If you don’t match this picture, chances are you need to make some changes to your desk set up at work. Common suggestions that we give patients are:

  • Get your eyes checked, why are you leaning into the monitor as you work over time?
  • Ask for a pull-out keyboard train, this can often minimize wrist strain and make sure that you can have the keyboard close to your body.
  • Ask for a hi-lo desk with the ability to raise and lower the desk using a button
  • Make sure your chair is right for you, is it too tall? Are the arm rests too low? Does it have lumbar support? If the answer is no, a new chair may need to be ordered. 

Each of these suggestions and more can be assessed by your local physical therapist- they can even write you a letter to have the items listed covered by your company!

Get Moving!

Complete these simple posture exercises and stretches weekly to decrease the chances of imbalance in the body and pain/injury in the future.

Chin Tucks

chin tuck exercise
Image source: Foothills Sports Medicine

How To Do This Move:

  • Sit up straight in your chair, feet flat on the floor
  • Gently tuck your chin towards your chest, moving only your head, not your spine.
  • It should be a small motion and you may feel a stretch at the base of your skull
  • Repeat 10 times every hour

Scapular Squeezes

scapular squeeze
Image source Redefining Strength

How To Do This Move:

  • Sit up straight in your chair, feet flat on the floor
  • Bend your elbows to 90 degrees
  • Keep your elbows at your side as you squeeze your shoulder blades together as if to squeeze an orange.

Make sure to concentrate on the muscles of the mid back, not the ones up by the neck, if you notice your shoulders go up, you are doing the exercise incorrectly. Think about bringing each shoulder blade down and back towards your opposite hip as you squeeze.

Thoracic Extension Stretch

Thoracic extension
Image source: Cascade Health Center

How To Do This Move:

  • While sitting with feet flat, bring your arms and interlace them behind your head.
  • Using the top of the back of your chair, lean backwards, extending your thoracic spine over the top.
  • Repeat this 5 times, multiple times throughout the day to reverse slouching postures.

Thoracic Rotation Stretch

thoratic rotation stretch
Image source:

How To Do This Move:

  • While seated, feet flat, take your right arm and bring it to the left though or arm rest
  • Gently breath out and rotate as far as you can to the L with your torso with the help of your arms
  • Hold for 10 seconds
  • Repeat again, except rotate to the right
  • Rotate to each side 3 times and continue to repeat multiple times throughout the day

Wrist Stretches

wrist stretch

How To Do This Move:

  • Straighten the elbow completely and bend the wrist so that your palm is coming towards you
  • Apply gentle pressure with your opposite hand and hold the pressure for 30 seconds, stretching the muscles of the forearm
  • Repeat this same stretch, but with the palm facing away.
  • Repeat on both sides, 2 times and repeat throughout the day, especially after long bouts of typing.

All and all these tips and exercises should prevent injury and pain, however if you find yourself suffering from low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, elbow and wrist pain from repetitive tasks, just know that there is much more than just these tips that can help alleviate that pain. Seek out your local physical therapist for an ergonomic and injury assessment and start on your path to decrease your pain today!

Jessica Jones

Physical Therapist

Jessica recently moved to Seattle from Boston, MA and is excited to join the Therapydia team. Her treatment experience includes orthopedics, sports medicine, pediatrics, and vestibular therapy. Jessica received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Northeastern University in Boston, MA in 2016. She has completed the Pediatric Physical Therapy Residency at Boston Children’s Hospital and is in the process of completing a Comprehensive Vestibular Rehabilitation certification. Jessica believes in empowering and inspiring patients to take control of their health through education, movement, and exercise. She enjoys treating patients of all ages and levels while utilizing soft tissue techniques, neuromuscular re-education, balance training as well as therapeutic exercise. In her free time, Jessica enjoys yoga, dancing, kayaking, and hiking with her dog!


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