Is five minutes a day enough to improve posture? To find out, I put this mobility routine to the test

Relieve tight back muscles and shoulders with the ultimate stretches for desk workers

Alice Porter does thread the needle pose at home in living room
(Image credit: Alice Porter)

I work at home full-time and often find myself wriggling around in my chair to try and ease discomfort in my lower back and shoulders.

These types of niggles and aches are fairly common for desk workers. Many of us spend large parts of our day sitting down, which can result in back pain and a tendency to slouch.

One of the best things we can do to offset the damage of our desk jobs is to stretch regularly. And although a full yoga mobility routine is great, there isn't always time to incorporate it into our daily lives.

My current approach to stretching is to do it little and often, which also helps me take mindful breaks from work throughout the day. This means I go back to my desk feeling better in body and mind.

So when I discovered this five-minute mobility routine from mobility coach Anthony Green, which is designed to improve posture, I decided to squeeze it into my busy Monday morning schedule. 

Watch Anthony Green's five-minute posture mobility routine

Despite it being the start of the week, my body was already feeling tight when I started this routine. My shoulders in particular were sore, with a pesky knot that often crops up in my left shoulder bothering me throughout the day.

I always forget that stretching can be enjoyable, rather than a chore and as soon as I started this routine, I felt relief in my shoulders and upper back.

I've tried a couple of exercises in this routine before, including the cat-cow and the thread the needle movement, both of which I find beneficial for stretching my upper body.

However, the first and final exercises in the video, which involve placing your hands behind your head and stretching your elbows out in front of you, rotating your elbows and arching and curving your back, were new to me. I was happy to find that they provided a satisfying stretch.

It can be difficult to target the muscles in the shoulders but these stretches eased my discomfort almost immediately. I went back to work for the afternoon feeling more comfortable than I was before I tried the routine.

The short routine didn't transform my posture, as you need to do  regular mobility and strength training to change this. However, I noticed myself sitting up in my chair a little taller, and I was more aware of my posture for the rest of the day. Plus, the muscles in my back felt more relaxed than usual.

Ideally, I'd like to try these stretches a few times a day to get the best results, paired with some hip-mobility exercises, as working a desk job can also be damaging for the hips. However, five minutes of stretching was enough for me to notice a difference in how I was feeling, physically and mentally.

Need help choosing a new mat for your stretching routine? Our guide to the best yoga mats can help

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.