Pause Exercises for Office Workers

Posted by Helen Potter on 31 March 2017 | Filed under Back and Neck Care, Tips, Uncategorized

  The negatives of sitting too much

Have you noticed after you have been sitting for prolonged periods you start to feel uncomfortable, tense, fatigued, and may even start to lose concentration?

  • This happens at work when you are writing or using a keyboard, doing repetitive tasks, sitting at long meetings, or at home doing some knitting. Our bodies don’t like being in one position.
  • POSTURE easily becomes slumped and unbalanced and this can become permanent unless you move your body in the opposite direction. When sitting, take a break and stand and arch backwards with your hands on your very low back.
  • ATTITUDEto your task will be improved by taking a short break which enables you to return to your task with a fresh approach. Walk to give someone a message rather than email.
  • UNWINDthe physical and mental stress that accumulates without you being aware of it. Take three full, slow breaths in and out feeling your body ‘let go’ with each breath out.
  • STRETCHout muscles and joints that have been held overlong in one position or overused in a repetitive task.
  • ENERGISEyour whole body by improving circulation and breathing. Have a 10-minute lunch walk

Why Pause Exercises?

Interrupting your work for a few minutes every hour is better for your mind and body than sitting for hours. Use 20 minutes at lunchtime to get up and walk, enjoy the weather, get out of airconditioning, refresh your mind.

So, take a P.A.U.S.E. with these exercises

  • Do them anytime you have been sitting for more than one hour.
  • Repeat each exercise 3 times.
  • Perform exercises slowly, smoothly and gently.
  • STOP if you feel any pain or discomfort and see your physiotherapist if pain persists.
  • Keep breathing comfortably as you do the exercises.

Pause Exercise suggestions

Pause exercise 1. Arm stretches:

With elbows straight, grasp hand and slowly bend wrist back. Alternate hands.

  With elbows straight, grasp the hand and gently bend the wrist down. Alternate hands.  
Pause exercise 2: Scapular motion

Standing upright, draw both shoulders and elbow back and inward.


Pause exercise 3: Eye movement

Blink regularly. Look into the distance. Move your eyes horizontally, vertically and diagonally.



Pause exercise 4: Neck Rolls

  Turn head to look over right shoulder. Run chin down and across your chest to look over left shoulder and return along the same path. Turn to the left and repeat to the other side.

More exercise suggestions

Pause exercise 5: Shoulder Circles

 Diagram Shoulder Rolls Slowly roll both shoulders backwards in large circles. Do four full circles.

Place hands on shoulders and make large circles backwards with your elbows. Do four full circles.

Pause exercise 6: Spine to fingertip stretch


  Diagram Arm Stretches 2

Sit well back in chair with your back straight. Interlace your fingers, stretch forward with your arms then lift arms overhead
 Diagram Arm Stretches 1 Return to upright position (arms still overhead) and twist slowly to each side. Return to centre and lower arms. Give shoulders and arms a shake to relax them.

Pause exercise 7: Ankle rolls

 Diagram Ankle Exercises                                            Sit forward on your chair with feet flat on the floor. This exercise is best done with shoes off. Lift alternate heels and ‘walk’ through the balls of your feet. Do eight ‘walks’.
 Diagram Ankle Exercises Lift right leg and circle your foot from the ankle four times. Repeat with left leg.

Pause exercise 8: Long Back Stretch



Stand up and hold table, ledge, bench or back of solid chair (not on castors). Swing backwards until arms are stretched out with head between arms and back straight. Arch your back upwards in a ‘hump’ and then gently push your chest downward to create a slight ‘hollow’ release. Then swing in and sag your low back into an arch.
 Back stretch 3


Pause exercise 9: Back Twist Stretch

Diagram Back rotation movement

Move from the waist and gently swing your hips to each side.




 Swing to right then left with head, shoulders, chest themn low back

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