12 Quick Stretches to Do on Your Work Break

Women sitting on yoga mats with legs and arms crossed in front of them.

A quick series of work break stretches can help you stay energized for your workday.

Do you feel achy and sore, or maybe just exhausted, after every shift? A quick stretch on your break can help loosen your muscles and keep your circulation flowing. Whether you’ve been at a desk or on your feet all day, muscles can grow tired and exhausted from overuse or inactivity alike.

Taking a moment to move around can leave you feeling reinvigorated for the rest of your shift, and will give you more energy for your time off. We put together a routine of twelve stretches targeting all your main muscle groups that you can easily do on a break. Why not give it a try on your next shift!

1. Loosen up.

Start off by shaking loose and rolling your shoulders

2. Ear to shoulder.

With your chin tucked, bend your head to one side, ear-to-shoulder. Place the hand of that same shoulder gently on your head, but do not pressed down.

Woman standing with her ear facing her shoulder and hand holding head down.

3. Shoulder Stretch.

Link your hands behind your back, and then lift your arms backwards. You should feel your chest and shoulders loosen.

4. Ceiling stretch.

Next, link your fingers in front of you an raise them toward the ceiling. Bend from side to side to bring the stretch all the way into your waist.

5. Eagle arm twists.

For the arms, start with an eagle-arm twist. Hold your right arm in front of you, bent 90° at the elbow, with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling. Wrap your left elbow under your right, and then bring your left fingers up to touch your right palm. Twist your body to the left and look to the right. Then do the same on the other side.

6. Cow face poses.

This next stretch is called the cow face pose, and it’s a bit tricky. You may need to hold on to a belt or wash cloth. Reach your right arm up and behind you as if to touch the back of your neck. Bring your left arm behind your back and reach upward toward your right hand. Try to touch your fingers together. Of you can’t, use a belt or some other strap to help you with this stretch until you gain flexibility. Switch arms and do the same on the other side.

Woman in exercise gear with arms classed behind back in stretch.

7. Touch your toes.

Now it’s time to bring some life back into your legs! First, stand with your feet hip-width apart, and reach down to touch your toes. Go slowly if you haven’t done this in a while so that you don’t pull anything.

8. Leg lift.

Next, using a desk for support, reach one leg up behind you, and grab hold of your ankle. Keep you hips pointing down and draw your shin back by kicking into your hand.  Allow your shoulder to roll open.  Switch sides.

9. Figure four positions.

Finally, try a figure four position. Again, using a counter for balance, cross one ankle over your knee and lower into a sitting position. Gently apply pressure by pressing your hand down onto your inner thigh to enhance your stretch.  You should feel the stretch in the outer thigh and hip of your crossed leg. Switch sides and do it again.

10. Heart Opener.

Now stand with your hands on your lower back like your sticking your hands in your jean pockets.  As you start to press your hips forward and lean back, allow your shoulders to roll open and reach your chest forward and up to create space across the front side of your body.  This will bring flexibility back into your back and stretch out your abdomen.

11. Back twists.

Go slowly so as not to strain your back. You can do this standing or sitting, but you may find it easier sitting, so long as your chair is sturdy. Keeping your back straight, twist slowly around so that your torso and shoulders are perpendicular to your hips.  Both hip bones continue to point forward so you are twisting from the waist up.  Do both sides.

12. Deep breaths and roll your shoulders.

Roll your shoulders a few times and breathe deeply.

You’re finished! Enjoy the rest of your break!

The Full Routine

  1. Shake your limbs and roll your shoulders to loosen up.
  2. Ear to shoulder, twice on each side.
  3. Link hands behind your back and stretch back.
  4. Link hands in front and stretch toward ceiling. Bend side to side.
  5. Eagle arm twists.
  6. Cow face poses.
  7. Touch your toes.
  8. Lift leg behind you and clasp ankle.
  9. Figure four positions.
  10. Hands on hips and lean back.
  11. Sit down and twist toward back.
  12. Deep breaths and roll your shoulders.

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