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Stretching Exercises at Your Desk: 12 Simple Tips

Try these stretching exercises at your desk -- or anywhere else -- to ease back pain and boost energy.
By Susan Seliger
WebMD Feature

You may feel awkward doing stretching exercises at your desk. But right now, as you sit there at your computer, you are doing one of the worst things you can do to your body -- you're sitting still. And not only that, but the way you sit -- and type, and hold the phone -- may be wreaking havoc on your bones, joints, and muscles.

"People who sit at their computers for hours every day -- they're in for serious medical problems," says Sharon Hame, MD, associate clinical professor at UCLA's department of orthopaedic surgery. "We're seeing more things than carpal tunnel; those pains go up the arm to the elbow and shoulder and then translate to the neck and back. It's a huge problem."

In addition to carpal tunnel and other traditional ergonomic issues, new problems are cropping up, Hame says. "I saw a woman yesterday who had tennis elbow. She got it at work from the way she answered the phone and worked at the computer." The solution, experts say, is to break up your work by doing stretching exercises at your desk.

Relieve Back Pain With Stretching Exercises at Your Desk

Aches and pains, not to mention the weight gain that can result from hunching over your desk all day, are just the beginning. "People shouldn't be complacent about moving just because they're not obese," says Angela Smith, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and former president of the American College of Sports Medicine. "There are a lot of skinny people who, because they don't exercise for strength and balance, are osteoporotic fractures waiting to happen."

So what can you do to ward off pain and stiffness and boost your energy and alertness? WebMD consulted orthopaedic surgeons and exercise specialists for 12 simple stretching exercises at your desk that will release tension from head to toe. They take only a few minutes. Set the alarm on your cell phone or computer to go off every hour to remind you it's time to get up and stretch.

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