Back Pain? 7 Stretches You Can Do From Your Desk Chair


Back pain, especially lower back pain, is extremely common, brought on by movement, activity or even the opposite. Staying in a seated position throughout the day in a less-than-optimal desk chair or car seat can bring on the pain.

Physical Therapist Heather Harrison of OrthoCarolina Huntersville has seen her fair share of patients with back pain and she often recommends using a chair with lumbar support. But even if your chair has built-in support, Heather says one size doesn’t fit all.

For a little extra support, try rolling up a jacket, sweatshirt or towel to place behind your back. When you’re in a bind, Heather says this simple step can help support the natural curvature of the lumbar spine.

Still feeling that lower back pain? You can do these exercises right from your desk chair:

0 x 10 seconds

Begin in a seated position with hands on your lower abs. With a slow, controlled movement, draw your navel to your spine, bracing your abdominal muscles. Hold, then relax.

Be sure to keep your tall posture throughout the exercise, avoiding bending forward or holding your breath.

30 repetitions 

Throughout the exercise, remain seated in your chair with a straight back and abs braced by pulling the navel to the spine.

Your knees stay bent as you pick one leg up off the ground, lower it back down and alternate with the other leg.

3 x 30 seconds

Begin seated in your chair with feet on the ground at shoulder width.

Keeping your back straight, bend forward as far as you can. Your arms will hang towards the floor.

2 x 10

From a standing position, place your hands on your hips. Slowly and with control, lean your trunk backward to the first point of stiffness or pain, then return to an upright position.

Pay attention to keeping your balance throughout the stretch. Knees should remain straight.

3 x 30 seconds

While sitting upright in your chair with feet on the ground, lift one foot and bring it to rest on the opposite knee.

Lean forward gently until you feel the stretch. Keep your back straight and hold this position.

3 x 30 seconds

Sit upright in your chair with feet on the ground. Cross one leg over the other so the ankle rests on the opposite thigh.

Pull the raised knee across your body towards the opposite shoulder, keeping a straight back.


3 x 30 seconds

Begin seated on the edge of your chair with one foot on the ground while bringing the other straight forward in front of you, heel resting on the ground.

Hinge at the hips and lean forward until you feel the stretch, then hold the position. Keep your back and extended knee straight throughout, then switch legs.


- Having consistent pain? Find an OC physical therapy location near you for an evaluation to determine the specific exercises and treatments that are best for you.

- Set yourself up for success and finish strong! Try a morning Pilates routine to kick off the day and then incorporate the five gentle stretches you need once you leave the office.

- It's all in the ergonomics. Stop the pain before it starts by learning how to best set up your workspace. Ever wondered if you should switch to a standing space? We've got all your standing desk questions answered.


April 24, 2019

I have shared this with the entire office. Thank you OrthoCarolina for being a leader in your industry and across the community.
- Anthony

April 24, 2019

Thank you for the kind words Anthony!
Reply From: OrthoCarolina

April 23, 2019

Very much needed at this moment and time. Thank you!
- Shannon

April 23, 2019

Glad you found them useful Shannon.
Reply From: OrthoCarolina

April 23, 2019

Thank you so much for these easy to do exercises. I am sure they will make a difference in my pain level.
- Barbara Eaker

April 23, 2019

You are welcome Barbara.
Reply From: OrthoCarolina

April 23, 2019

Excellent and achievable exercises that do help alleviate back and sciatic pain
- Dan T

April 23, 2019

Thank you Dan.
Reply From: OrthoCarolina

April 23, 2019

Excellent tips! These are the stretches I put my back patients on and periodically cover them on my radio show. When people actually do them, they work well. Thanks for covering a much needed topic ! Success to you !
- Ted Barbee, DC

April 23, 2019

Thanks so much Ted.
Reply From: OrthoCarolina

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