6 Neck & Shoulder Stretches to Do At Your Desk

24 July 2019

receptionist with neck and shoulder pain Willow Chiropractic

Poor posture at work is one of the most common reasons why you may have suffered with neck pain, shoulder and back pain. You may also find that this is accompanied by headaches, as the forward head position that often comes with long hours in front of a computer puts strain and tension on your neck at the base of your brain stem. Ouch!

Luckily, we’re here to help.

Dr Ryan Stephenson from our Bedminster clinic reached into his past life as a personal trainer and into his present profession as a Doctor of Chiropractic to bring you these six stretches and exercises. You can do most of these from your desk, so bonus! Done regularly, they will help to correct your posture and relieve some of that ache and tension that comes from a deskbound working day.

Wall Slides

Also known as Wall-slides, this technique to improve thoracic extension this improves the function of your posture muscles. The thoracic spine is the area from the top of your shoulder blades down to your waist, and these core muscles are responsible for supporting the spine and holding you upright. 

How to perform:

  • Assume the Wall Angel position.
  • Close the spaces between the spine and the wall, then perform sets of between five and ten arm slides up the wall.
  • They key to this exercise is that your hands, elbows and shoulders remain in contact with the wall at all times.

Aim for three sets of this exercise every day.

Brugger Relief Technique

This one is an exercise used to briefly reverse the gradual effects of sitting in less-than-ideal posture. Especially for desk workers

How to perform:

Perch at the edge of chair with knees lowered. Sit upright, so straightening the back with the head retracted over your shoulders. Straighten your arms and keep your shoulders down. Face your palms up and away from you, thumbs at the outer edge. Spread your fingers and exhale deeply into your abdomen.

Hold this positon for 30 seconds to a minute, and repeat this several times a day.

Whenever you notice yourself slumping, do it again!

Upper Trap Stretch

Perhaps the most commonly tight muscle for workers desk bound.

How to perform

Sit in upright posture ensuring the shoulder blades are drawn gently downwards. To stretch the left upper trapezius the head is rotated slightly to the left and the right hand reaches over to contact around and above the left ear.

Draw the head and neck gently towards the right with your head bowed slight forwards.

Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat three times.

Levator Scapulae Stretching

The Levator Scapulae is also a very common tight, problem muscle for deskbound workers. It’s situated at the back and side of the neck. This is the one that will quite often feel very angry and achey if you’ve been hunched over a screen all day!

This stretch is similar to the Upper Trap Stretch.

How to perform

Sit in upright posture and draw your shoulder blades are drawn gently downwards.

Rotate your head slightly to the right. Take your right hand and reach over your head to rest just above your left ear.

Draw your head and neck gently to the right to achieve the stretch. Bend your neck softly to achieve this.

Hold it for 30 seconds. Repeat this process three times.

Perform this stretch whenever you feel tightness or soreness arising in this muscle.

Pectoralis Minor Stretching

The pec that no one stretches! Give it some love. This muscle is towards the outer edges of your chest.

How to perform

In upright posture place your hands behind your neck and link the fingers.

Draw your elbows backwards, keeping the chin tucked in throughout.

Then try to reach your shoulder to your ears.

Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

This breathing technique works with your diaphragm, which is essential but very underused for respiration. Most people only breathe using shallow breaths and only engaging their upper lungs and chest muscles, but it’s important to make sure that your diaphragm stays strong and used.

How to perform

Either lying on the floor or a seated position.

On inhalation try to breathe down towards your stomach, you should see your stomach inflate like a balloon.

On exhalation squeeze your abdominals to force the air out from the bottom.

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