5 back stretches to relieve a desk hunch MAIN

5 back stretches to help relieve desk hunch

Finola Burrell

Back stretches are key to relieving desk hunch. With many of us spending more time than usual hunched over a computer whilst working from home, Finola Burrell demonstrates these 5 stretches

The global pandemic has seen the majority of us working from home. Even now that restrictions have been lessened, many people are either still working from home or making their way back into the office.

Although working from home has been beneficial in many other ways, it has also brought it’s fair share of issues.

One of those issues is back and neck pain. I’ve found my clients have had neck and back problems from sitting at their desks at home for long periods of time.

Without the daily commute, the walk outside for coffee or for lunch, or even just the regular work breaks to talk to your colleagues, a lot of us are actually sitting at our desks longer than when we were at the office.

Although, I’ve also heard the same from clients who have headed back to their desks at the office.

Staying in one position, even if you have the ideal upright posture, isn’t great for us. Our body’s want to move and when we don’t we can get back and neck pain as well as changes in our posture.

Typically, sitting in a hunched over posture at the computer can lead to some people developing a Dowdger’s hump – a rounding of the upper back and base of the neck.

These five stretches can help prevent you getting that hunch and the aches and pains that come with it…

Back stretch #1 Back extension over a foam roller, x5 repetitions

A back extension is such a satisfying stretch to do when you’ve been bent over your laptop for while, this back extension stretch helps by moving the spine in the opposite direction.

If you haven’t got a foam roller you can roll up a large towel or extend over the back of your chair.

Finola back stretches foam roller

Finola displaying a back extension using a foam roller

Back stretch #2 Child’s pose, hold for 5 breaths

This is a firm yoga favourite for a lot of us.

Child’s pose is extremely beneficial for the back and neck as it stretches the entire back, perfect for relieving tension.

Finola back stretches 1

Finola displaying a child’s pose stretch

Back stretch #3 2-minute full body stretch

This is a quick full body stretch you can do without even having to leave your desk or stand up.

Set a reminder to do this every 30-60 minutes. Little and often movements work wonders for our joints, muscles and circulation.

View this post on Instagram

This full body stretch can be done in under 2 minutes. The evidence for regular movement for just a couple of minutes every 30 minutes is one of the best ways to prevent common issues associated with working at a desk. Common issues include spinal pain, blood pressure problems and joint pain. . This is also great for parents as a quick and efficient way of stretching when you have a teeny break from holding your baby for long periods of time. Added benefit is that this is safe for immediately #postpartum and during #pregnancy to help stretch out those tight muscles. Check out @hannahbarretyoga's page for a more dynamic version! . #homeworkout #stretches #yoga #pilates #neckpain #backpain #selfcare #fitspo @strengththroughyoga

A post shared by Finola Burrell (@finolaphysio) on

Back stretch #4 Thread the needle, x3 each way/side

One of my personal favourites – thread the needle – excellent for mid back mobility, which can be a tricky part of the spine to stretch.

Allow your head to rest on the floor or mat to relax into the stretch further.

Finola back stretches 2

Finola displaying a thread the needle stretch, perfect for mid-back mobility

Back stretch #5 Cat Cow, x3

The Cat Cow stretch not only feels great for the lower back, but can also be a welcome stretch for your stomach muscles which can get tight from sitting down all day or from stress.

Finola back stretches cat cow 2

Finola displaying the Cat stretch, perfect for a tight lower back and stomach muscles

Finola back stretches cat cow 1

Finola displaying the Cow stretch, perfect for a tight lower back and stomach muscles

Finola Burrell

Finola Burrell is a physiotherapist based in London who is passionate about giving people the knowledge and tools to help them lead the life they want, without pain or injury stopping them.

Since graduating from King’s College London, Finola has gained additional qualifications as a Pilates teacher, in women’s health physiotherapy, acupuncture and in psychological therapies for pain.

Together with yoga specialist Hannah Barrett, she has co written a postnatal yoga based fitness guide, Strength Through Yoga, to inspire and help women regain strength in both body and mind after having a baby. Follow Finola on Instagram @finolaphysio

Relevant Healthista Content:

5 easy steps to help sciatica – the physio’s guide

Pregnancy and exercise – 7 things expectant mums need to know

Healthista Content you may also like:

30 day fat-burning home workout challenge

4 stretches to do at your desk right now

Got back pain? These 27 tiny changes to your day can help

Got back, neck and shoulder pain? This foot massage could help

< Back

Also in this week’s magazine

7 osteopath recommended morning stretches to set you up for the day FEATURED

7 osteopath recommended morning stretches to set you up for the day

Tight or stiff muscles as soon as you wake up? Osteopath Kemmy Gichaba, reveals 7 morning stretches that will help set you and your body up for the day

5 important full body stretches you can do right now FEATURED

5 important full body stretches you can do right now

Sore neck? Aching back? If you're spending all day slouched over a desk, you need to try these 5 important full body stretches

Are you super flexible Physiotherapist answers hypermobility FAQ's FEATURED

Are you super flexible? Physiotherapist answers hypermobility FAQ’s

Are you way more flexible than all your friends? You may have hypermobility. Physiotherapist & Healthista Collective Expert Finola Burrell answers FAQ's on hypermobile joints

eating disorder cartoon women looking in mirror
Mental Health

Eating disorders: 6 myths to be aware of

'Only young women are affected' is just one misconception people believe when it comes to eating disorders. Healthista spoke to dietitian Jane Clarke about the myths we should all be aware of 

Tired Bloated Itchy, dry skin You might have fatty liver disease FEATURE

Tired? Bloated? Itchy, dry skin? You might have fatty liver disease

Are you tired and bloated with dry skin that's itchy? These experts say one-third of the UK population has liver disease, yet many don’t even know they have it

Can vitamin D really help fight Covid-19 FEATURED

Can vitamin D help fight Covid-19? Here’s what you need to know

Can vitamin D really help fight Covid-19? From how much we need to how we can get more, expert adviser and nutritionist Angela Dowden provides a complete guide to vitamin D

Latest Video Series


Wellness Weekly

I agree to my personal data being stored and used to receive the Healthista newsletter.


STOP - Healthista needs you!

Tell us what content you want more of...

MenopauseFitness VideosPost-partum careSexual wellness