Take a break from work and try these easy stretches at your desk to release neck and shoulder pain.
Sitting at a desk all day and hunching over a computer causes tightness and pain in the neck and shoulders. This type of improper posture can lead to a variety of ergonomic issues such as: tightness in the chest, traps, shoulders, and neck. It can also lead to a forward head – where your cervical spine is out of alignment, weakness in upper back, and pain in the neck and shoulders.
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Luckily, a few things can help to make sure that you aren’t destined to a life of neck and shoulder pain. Proper desk height, practicing proper posture, strengthening exercises, and stretching to open up tight muscles are all things that we can do to help reverse some of the pain and stiffness that comes with sitting at a desk all day.
These simple stretches to release neck and shoulder pain will have you feeling loose and limber from the comfort of your own desk chair.
Bound Neck Release
This simple stretch helps to release tension in the back and the sides of the neck.
- Begin by sitting in your chair. Interlace your fingers behind your lower back and squeeze the heels of your palms together. Straighten the arms back behind you and puff out your chest to stretch through the shoulders.
- Next, bring your bound hands next to your right hip so that your left forearm is crossing behind your lower back. Then, point your right elbow straight back behind you. Lower your right ear towards your right shoulder to feel a release through the left side of your neck. Don’t force it, just allow the ear to hang towards the shoulder and find a stretch.
- Begin to lower your chin down towards your chest and gaze towards your right hip. Take slow half circles up and down, pausing for 20 seconds every time you find a tight spot.
- Once you’ve finished this side, lift your head back to center, take your bound hands to your left hip, and repeat on the other side.
Seated Cat Cow
This feel-good yoga stretch opens up the chest, shoulders, upper back, and the neck, all while helping to warm the spine.
- Start sitting up tall in your chair. Reach your arms above your head and bend your elbows, interlacing your hands behind your head. Bring your elbows out wide and engage your abs.
- Inhale as you gently press the back of your skull into your hands and arch your back to lift your chest up towards the sky. Pause to feel a stretch through your chest and shoulders.
- Exhale to round your spine and draw your chin towards your chest. Pull your navel up and in towards your spine and hug your elbows towards one another. Pause to feel a stretch through your upper back and neck. Continue going back and forth with your inhales and exhales for 8 full rounds of breath.
Seated Half Moon
A big source of shoulder and neck pain comes from tightness in the latissimus dorsi and other muscles in the upper back. This stretch helps to release tension in the lats and the muscles between your ribs, as well as in your shoulders and triceps.
- Begin by sitting up tall in your chair. Reach your arms above your head and interlace your fingers. Press your palms up towards the sky and engage your abs.
- Inhale to reach up through your palms and feel a stretch through your lats and shoulders.
- Exhale and side bend to the right, reaching your palms to the right and gently pressing your hips to the left. Pause to feel a stretch through your intercostals, lats, triceps, and shoulders. Make sure to keep your biceps in line with your ears and your abs engaged.
- Hold for 3 slow breaths, then inhale to come back to center. On your exhale, switch sides by reaching over to the left. Inhale to come back to center and repeat for a total of 3 sets on each side.
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