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Desk Stretches For People Who Sit

Desk Stretches for People who Sit at a Desk www.PrimallyInspired.com

Desk Stretches

A 5 Stretch Routine for People who Sit!


Today I have a desk stretching routine that will help relieve the pain and tension in your neck, shoulders and back. These desk stretches counter rounded shoulders, help to correct posture and and even activate your lymphatic system so it can start pumping out toxins better!


Here at Primally Inspired, I am very passionate about teaching others how to lessen their toxic load so you can live a healthier, more vibrant life. 


We now live in a world crowded with chemicals that didn’t exist less than a century ago. Much of the food we eat, the medicines we take, the products we put on our skin contain synthetic chemicals the human body has a difficult time processing. Not only that, but electromagnetic fields and industrial pollutants bombard us daily. Over 4 billion pounds (!!!) of toxic chemicals are released into the nation’s environment each year, including 72 million pounds of recognized carcinogens. (source)


The truth is, even though we have an amazing built in detoxification system in our body (kidneys, liver, lymphatic system, etc), it was never designed to handle the toxic load of today’s world. 


Our body can’t keep up all with these toxins! And when it can’t keep up, our health suffers. Digestion issues, allergies, asthma, headaches and/or skin problems are often the first sign that we have excess toxins in our system and that our detox pathways can’t keep up with the load. Over time, these excess toxins lead to even more devastating health issues like cancer, neurological diseases, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, obesity and more. Cancer and heart disease barely existed less than a century ago and now they are the two leading causes of death! 


So what’s all this have to do with desk stretches?


I’m so glad you asked 🙂


Simply put, excess sitting and a sedentary lifestyle hinder our body’s detoxification pathways.


The lymphatic system is responsible for moving toxins out of the body.  While the circulatory system has the heart to pump blood, the lymphatic system has no pump. Your body’s movement is the main method that fosters circulation of the lymph. (source)


Since the lymphatic system depends largely on movement, sitting for many hours a day is a major problem! People who sit at their desks all day develop  a sluggish and congested lymph system because they do not move enough. If the lymphatic system isn’t free to circulate and gets backed up, cells are poisoned from their own waste and toxins end up accumulating in the body.  


Today, most of us sit for many hours of the day for work. While it’s unrealistic to quit our jobs, the awesome news is that you can greatly get your lymphatic system moving and pumping out toxins by doing some simple desk stretches throughout the day.


These easy desk stretches shown below will not only activate your lymphatic system to help remove toxins, but they will also help relieve the pain and tension in your neck, shoulders and back. You’ll feel like a whole new person after doing this simple desk stretching routine! I can’t wait for you to try it 🙂


Desk Stretches for People who Sit at a Desk www.PrimallyInspired.com


5 Desk Stretches 

Desk Stretch 1 – Arm Stretch

This arm stretch activates your spleen and lymphatic system and brings fresh oxygen to your cells. It also stimulates fresh energy flow through the joints. Plus it feels fantastic!

Take a deep breath through your nose, stretch one arm up and one arm down, pushing as high and as low as you can go with your palms. Hold while exhaling slowly through your mouth. Switch arms and repeat.

Desk Stretches for People who Sit at a Desk www.PrimallyInspired.com


Desk Stretch 2 – Seated Twist

Twisting is a gentle massage for your organs. It’s great for detoxifying, stimulating the kidneys and digestion.  It strengthens the back and spine and creates a nice release for your neck and shoulders. It feels oh so good!  

Sitting at the edge of your seat, inhale as you take your right palm and press it on your left knee. Exhale and twist to the left, only twisting as far as is comfortable for you. Place your left hand beside you. Keep your back and neck long. I like to imagine my head reaching up towards the ceiling so my spine stays nice and long. Breathe deeply for 3 breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Untwist and then twist to the other side.

Desk Stretches for People who Sit at a Desk www.PrimallyInspired.com


 Desk Stretch 3 – Shoulder and Chest Opener

Sitting at a desk all day doesn’t do your posture any favors. Those who sit all day are apt to have shoulders that round forward from hunching over a desk all day.  This stretch counters rounded shoulders, opens up the chest to facilitate better lymph flow and helps relieve neck, shoulder and back pain.

Sitting up straight, interlock your hands behind you at your lower back. If your hands can’t reach together, use a towel. Keep your chest high and spine long as you press your shoulder blades together as much as comfortable for you. Breathe deeply for 3 breaths.

Desk Stretches for People who Sit at a Desk www.PrimallyInspired.com


If you’d like to go deeper with the stretch, straighten your elbows and reach behind you like this:

Desk Stretches for People who Sit at a Desk www.PrimallyInspired.com


Feels so good, doesn’t it?!


Desk Stretch 4 – Knee to Chest

Sitting for long periods of time shortens your hip flexor muscles. Tight and short hip flexors lead to a sore back. This stretch lengthens hip flexors, eases a sore back, stimulates lymphatic flow and opens the chest.

Interlock your fingers under one thigh. Lift that knee towards the chest while keeping the other foot flat on the floor. Breathe deeply, in through the nose, out through the mouth for 3 whole breaths and then switch sides.

Desk Stretches for People who Sit at a Desk www.PrimallyInspired.com


Desk Stretch 5 – Ankle to Knee 

Sitting for many hours also tightens the hamstrings. When they become tight it creates a lot of tension in the lower back.  Stretching the hips in this ankle to knee pose helps relax the hamstrings and eases lower back pain. 

To do this desk stretch, place your right ankle directly on top of your left knee. While keeping your back and neck in one long line, bend forward until you feel the stretch in your right outer hip. Hold and breath deeply for 3 breaths. Now do the other side.

Desk Stretches for People who Sit at a Desk www.PrimallyInspired.com


That’s it! Always remember that stretching should feel good. Never go too far in a stretch where you feel uncomfortable or in pain. 


Bonus Tips To Activate the Lymphatic System

Along with these 5 desk stretches, here are 2 more fantastic ways to get your lymph flowing throughout the day:


Deep Diaphragm Breathing

Shallow breathing leads to lymphatic congestion. Take a few moments to breathe deeply. Slowly take a deep breath in through the nose, pushing your belly out. Exhale slowly through the mouth. Repeat at least 3 times.  Not only does deep diaphragm breathing activate your lymphatic system and oxygenate blood, but it lessens stress, too! I try to remember to deep breathe as often as I can – it’s so good for the body!


Go on a Walk During Lunch

Going on a 15-30 minute walk is one of the best ways to activate lymphatic flow. Swing your arms and power walk for best results, although any type of walking is beneficial.


Desk Stretches for People who Sit www.PrimallyInspired.com


If you sit for long periods throughout the day, I hope you’ll incorporate this simple 5 stretch desk routine into your day. Not only is it wonderful for your body, but you’ll also notice that you’re so much more productive throughout the day when you do it!


Don’t forget to forward these desk stretches to your co-workers – they’ll thank you for it 🙂 


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Pin Desk Stretches Routine HERE:

Desk Stretches for People who Sit at a Desk www.PrimallyInspired.com

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  1. Avatar

    LOVE THESE! Thanks so much. I find that I have to remember to engage my abs while doing these, both to maintain good posture, but also to get into the correct muscles. Also, for those who have the space, a mini trampoline is said to be good for moving the lymph fluid.

  2. Avatar

    Great post Kelly! I am fortunate that I do not have to sit at a desk all day, but I just tried the stretches and they feel great. Another tip that I heard from Christiane Northrup is to simply stand up from your chair every fifteen minutes or so. And thanks to Patty for the reminder about the mini tramp. I have one in the basement and need to pull it back out!
    Completely unrelated topic…LOVE your shoes!

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      Thanks, Elizabeth! I love those shoes, too 🙂 And thank you for the really good tips!! I struggle with standing up every 15 minutes. I know I should, but I get so focused on my work that before I know it 3 hours (and sometimes many more haha!) have passed and I don’t even realize it. I think I need a timer!

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    I LOVED those stretching exercises, Kelly. Did all of them after reading. Great! Thanks sooooo much. Susan

  4. Avatar

    This is just came on time. Being a freelance copywriter/translator, I’m glued to my laptop screen most of the day, and have been suffering lately from cervical disc. Thanks a lot Kelly. Patty would you please clarify how to engage the abs during this stretch routine

    • Kelly from Primally Inspired

      Oh good, Iman! These will make a big difference! To engage your abs, imagine pulling your belly button in towards your spine as you lengthen your back nice and straight. You want to pull those core muscles in and up. I like to imagine I’m wearing one of those super tight corsets – you know, the kind that draws everything in and up. When you engage your core, that’s exactly what it should feel like.

      • Avatar

        I got it…..thanks a lot dear Kelly. I’m really grateful for the valuable info I always find in your interesting blog. Yet, I regret not being able to apply most of the healthy concoctions because the ingredients are unavailable in Egypt.

  5. Avatar

    Thanks so much for these moves, Kelly! I just did them all in a few minutes and already feel better. I sit down way too much during the day at my computer, so have been trying to implement some stretching moves from an article I found on The Art of Manliness every day (they sure do help), but I’m now excited to implement yours, as well. 🙂

  6. Avatar

    Thanks, very important to remember moving during the breaks in sitting. But what about hip flexor stretches – these get chronically shortened in people sitting for long time. Some form of lunge would be good to include. Short hamstrings are another symptom, can be addressed with a forward bend. Both often lead to low back pain.

  7. Avatar

    These are wonderful! I sit all day long and totally need to set myself a reminder to do these. I also have to ask, where did you get those adorable shoes?!?

  8. Avatar

    A wonderful article. Thanks, Kelly. The world of today is far removed from ‘natural’ ways of living, moving and eating. A lot of the ailments as well as illnesses we suffer are a direct result of our lifestyles. I strongly believe in spending time with the elements everyday and make it a point to incorporate all kinds of primal movements into workouts.

  9. Avatar

    Beautiful site. Great article !!

  10. Avatar

    Great article! High amounts of sitting plagues so many of my patients on a daily basis. Our bodies hate sitting!

  11. Avatar

    I was searching for some desk exercises and fortunately landed on your blog!
    Thanks for the insightful post Kelly. I spend most of the time at desk. I do workouts in the morning. But still I need some exercises when I work in my laptop. These will be really helpful to me.

  12. Avatar

    Kelly thats an informative post for people like me who have 9 hours Desk job. I have a sitting job and so couldn’t move much due to lot of work pressure. So I was searching for some basic workout tips to follow daily but then landed on this page and found easy workout tip at work place. I will try to follow these tips and share it with my colleagues as well so that they can also try it out. Also, you are a great health blogger. Keep writing such useful things for us.


  13. Avatar

    Hi,I just LOVED those stretching exercises, Kelly. Did all of them after reading. Great! Thanks sooooo much.

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