Flexibility & Mobility

Desk Jockey Exercises — Remedy For The Office Worker’s Hunch

Written by shapeshifter

You begin the day with the best of intentions. Your back is straight, your shoulders are pulled back, you feel light and energetic. And then you get a stressful phone call that sets you off… You know what comes next. You hunker down to write that report you’ve been putting off. And the next thing you know you’re hunched over the keyboard like Quasimodo pining after Esmeralda.

Very few people in our modern world are “hunch immune.” Commutes, conference tables, computer stations and La-Z-Boy chairs — they all conspire to reshape us in their own image!

And it’s a self-perpetuating cycle. The more you hunch, the more your pecs and biceps tighten up, and the more you get pulled into that hunch… Is there any escape?

Thankfully, yes. It’s simply a matter of releasing tight tissues periodically throughout the day, while simultaneously awaking and activating their “antagonists” — the muscles of the rear shoulder and upper back.

Here’s my favourite “hunch breaker.” It’s a movement that I use several times throughout the day:

Keeping your thoracic region open and well balanced is a key to improving your overall well being. You’ll breathe better by freeing up your lungs. You’ll look better — tall and proud — and people will interact with you differently. Your body language has a profound affect on your mood, so you’ll probably also notice an increase in optimistic and positive feelings.

Remember: Everything in your body is interconnected. Your entire muscular system is enveloped by a substance called myofascia. It’s a big web of connective tissue that transfers force and tension throughout your body. If it tightens up in one place, problems eventually start radiating out into other areas.

The chest and biceps region is one of those areas that you should constantly look after. So be sure to compensate for “the hunch” on a regular basis if you want to stay healthy and happy.

You’ll find more posture, shoulder and back exercises here.

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  • Definitely a solid move. One I resort to many times throughout the day. I’ll sometimes modify it to work one arm at a time then do both at the same time, going a little deeper – I find this also helps people who can’t go as deeply with both arms at first. Changes your posture (for the better) in a matter of seconds.

  • Hi Adam,

    Great video indeed! Thanks for that tip!

    I have a serious hunch, which has been slowly correcting itself through training, but it’s something about me that I’ve been battling (passively) since I’m 15. First, it was a fashion statement, the baggie pants, the hunch, the ugly look, the attitude, all part of the teenage rap/hip hop phase… dramatic…

    But this got me into the habit of being hunched, making me look shorter than I actually am. Sometimes, when I stand up tall, I am amazed at how tall I actually am. This lead me to look at how other people stand and how many are exactly hunched or not. I realized that the majority of tall people (taller than average) are hunched. Would there be a “technical” reason why that is? I know in my case is to “drop” to the average level so I can talk to people eye-to-eye. I’m 6’0″, I’m not a giant, but I am taller than most people I know.

    I was wondering if you noticed the same thing or maybe Ryan had the same experience being so tall.

    Any feedback would be appreciated.

    Thanks again for this great video, I’ve passed it around!


  • Nice vid. I change the fingers round as well when doing this – it seems to work slightly different muscles when doing so. Also, I lift up the arms for a greater stretch. Of course, this needs to be done very gently and working gradually over a period of time.

    • I’m with joe J on the “gently and …gradually”. The cervothoracic vertebrae are often overflexed in “hunchers” and the added forces of scap depression and T spine extension can cause compression or a pinched feeling in the neck. Smooth and easy gets you there without going into spasm.
      What’s your take on that, Adam?

    • Hope I’m not treading on Adam’s turf here?

      While you’ll get a “release” from the cracking it’s often a symptom of creating too much force during the movement, enough force to “self-adjust”. Muscles can actually rebound and tighten right back up after being forced to let go. Therefore, the urge to keep cracking yourself. Keeping the breath moving in and out through the maneuver may produce a small click. No worries there.

      • Following this thread of thought here, I have the same question about “cracking”. My fingers and toes for example crack very often, I would open and close them, without effort, only to hear them pop. Is that good, bad? I am being threaten with potential future arthritis, is that true? It also occasionally happens with my neck and jaw (probably due to having them tight all of the them because of stress). Is this something to worry about? What can I do to stop this? I would appreciate any insights. (I must say they diminished since I started being more consistent with Intu-Flow).

  • Once again you have provided informtiaon that is easy to understand and neeeded. Myself – I have been doing this movvement for years. It is espically good after one of those phone called that seem to generate stress.
    Once again – thanks

  • Hey Adam,

    Didn’t Ryan do this stretch earlier for the Desk Jockeys? He suggested pointing the index fingers down instead of the knuckles.

    Great refresher though.

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