Back Exercises At Work

By Alex Bigale, PTA

Back Exercises at Work

Everyone has a little back and neck tightness when the work at a computer all day.  Even physical jobs can lead to some back issues.  The most common causes of back and neck problems at work are:

woman stretching at desk

Back exercises at work


Poor posture along with inactivity are the main causes of pain, but there are simple exercises and healthy stretches that you can do at work to help you feel better.

If you would like to learn more about the Anatomy of the Spine, this VIDEO may help.

What are Neck And Back Exercises I Can Do At Work?

Low Back Stretches

Seated Hamstring Stretch When you are in your chair at work, scoot to the edge of the chair.  Place one foot out forward on the floor, so that your heel is touching the ground.  Gently lean forward at the waist until you feel a stretch it he back of your leg.  Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.  Repeat for 3 times each leg.

Seated Hamstring stretches help to keep the back of the thighs loose.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Seated Piriformis StretchStart on the edge of the chair with both feet on the floor.  Take your Right ankle and cross it over your left thigh.  Place your right hand on your right thigh to prevent it from coming up.  Gently lean forward at the waist until you feel a stretch in your hip.  Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times on each leg.

Seated piriformis stretching stretches the muscles in the buttocks.

Seated piriformis stretching

Seated Forward Trunk Stretch– Sitting with both feet on the floor and on the edge of your chair, gently lean forward, taking your chest towards your thighs.  Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

Seated flexion stretch can help to stretch the lower back muscles.

Seated flexion stretch

Standing Lumbar/Hip Extension– Standing straight up, place your hands on the sides of the hips and take your hips forward while arching your low back backwards until you reach the point of stiffness or begin to feel pain.  Pause for a second and return to normal standing.  Repeat this 10 times.

Standing lumbar and hip extension helps to keep the low back mobile.

Standing lumbar and hip extension

Upper Back

Pec/Doorway Stretch – Stand in a doorway with arms out to the side at shoulder height and elbows bent on the door frame.  Gently step through the doorway, so that you feel a stretch in the chest.  Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times.

Doorway stretches help to stretch the chest muscles and help with posture.

Doorway stretches

Thoracic Extension (seated)  Sitting tall with your back against the chair.  Clasps your hands behind your head and gently lean back over chair (supporting head/neck) until you reach stiffness, pause for a second, and repeat 10 times.

Thoracic extension stretching helps to encourage erect posture in sitting.

Thoracic extension stretching

Thoracic Rotations (seated)-  Sit on edge of chair and cross arms across your chest.  Slowly rotate your trunk to the left until you feel stiffness, pause, and rotate fully to the right.  Repeat this 20 times.

Thoracic rotation stretches keep the upper back mobile an loose.

Thoracic rotation stretches

Rhomboid Stretch Sitting on the edge of your chair, hold your arms straight forward and clasps fingers together (palms out).  Push hands forward by rounding your shoulders and lightly lean forward.  Hold this for 5 seconds and return to starting position.  Repeat 10 times.

Rhomboid stretches keep the muscles between your shoulder blades looser.

Rhomboid stretches


Upper Back Stretches

Scapular Squeeze Start by sitting in an upright position with your elbows at your side.  Squeeze your shoulder blades down and together.  Hold this position for 5 seconds and relax.  Repeat 20 times.

Shoulder blade squeezes or scapular squeezes help to encourage better posture at the work station.

Shoulder blade squeezes

Reverse Shoulder Rolls– Roll shoulders smoothly in a backwards circular motion 10-20 times.

shrugs or reverse shoulder rolls keep the muscles in the neck and upper back from being too stiff.

Reverse shoulder rolls

Cervical Rotations– Sitting upright with shoulder blades partially squeezed together.  Gently rotate your head to the left until you feel stiffness/pain.  Return to neutral and rotate to the Right.  Complete 20 rotations each direction.

Cervical rotations keep the neck more mobile and less stiff.

Cervical rotations

Wall angels–  Begin by standing against a wall with your arms to the side at shoulder height and elbows bent.  Next, slide your arms/hands up the wall until they are straight up then return to starting position.  Repeat this motion 15-20 times.

Wall Angels are a great way to keep all the muscles in the upper back and neck in a better position and encourage better posture.

Wall Angels


What Do I Do If I Still Have Pain After the Exercises?

If performing these exercises consistently for a week or two does not improve your pain, then you should contact Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute to schedule an appointment. Our doctors and therapists are experts in treating back and neck pain and tightness.  We offer conservative care to advanced surgical intervention if needed.

To learn about a new minimally invasive lumbar spine fusion, watch this VIDEO.  If you want to read another article on the back, please read this article catch in upper back

To schedule an physical therapy visit at one of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers, please call 904-858-7045.

If you would like the schedule an appointment with a JOI Spine Physician, call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below.

By: Alex Bigale, PTA

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