Stanford University

Exercises and Stretches

Exercises and stretches can help lower the risk of developing an ergonomic injury. Physical fitness is an important aspect of overall health, and exercise should be integrated into your daily life. Some basic workstation exercises and stretches are described below.

Note that the activities may help prevent future injuries but are not meant to cure existing ones. If you have an existing injury, consult your physician first. Always obtain medical consent prior to beginning any exercise program.

If you get hurt or start experiencing recurring discomfort, you should immediately report it and obtain a medical evaluation.

Note: Please only perform stretches that are comfortable, and to not do anything that is uncomfortable/painful.

  1. yes:

    Eyes around the clock: Look straight ahead. Without moving your head or straining your eyes, focus on the one o’clock position of an imaginary clock in front of you. Then, focus on the two o’clock, the three o’clock, and so on, until you reach the twelve o’clock position. Perform the exercise again, counterclockwise.

    Neck and shoulders:

    Shoulder circles: Lift your shoulders towards your head. Pinch your shoulder blades together and roll your shoulders back. Then let the shoulders drop down to their starting position. Try moving your shoulders in a circular manner. Repeat as desired.

    Shoulder shrugs: Lift your shoulders toward your head. Hold for one to three seconds, then relax. Repeat as desired.

    Shoulder pinches: Pinch your shoulder blades together. Hold for one to three seconds, then relax. Repeat as desired.


    Catch and release: Slowly clench your fists, then hold for a few seconds. Slowly open your hands and spread your fingers, then hold for a few more seconds. Repeat as desired.

    Flex and extend: Raise your arms out in front of you with your palms facing down and fingers flat. Slowly extend your wrists and fingers so that they point upwards. Hold this position for a few seconds. Then, slowly lower your wrists and fingers until they are pointed towards the ground. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat as desired.

  1. Eyes:

    • Tightly close your eyes for a second, then open them wide. Repeat several times.
    • Refocus your eyes momentarily on an object at least 20 feet away.


    Put your hands together, with your fingers spread apart and fingertips at chin level. Slowly lower your hands, peel them apart, then reverse the process. Repeat several times.


    Slowly turn your head to one side and hold for 10 seconds. Alternate sides and repeat several times.

    Slowly tilt your head to one side and hold for five to 10 seconds. Alternate sides and repeat several times.

    Lower back:

    Stand up from your chair. With your hands on your hips and your feet about shoulder-width apart, slowly lean your hips forward and your shoulders slightly back. Hold the stretch for five to 10 seconds.

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