5 Easy Stretches for the Busy Office-Worker
I see a lot of desk-bound office workers at the clinic, who often present with similar symptoms of neck and shoulder pain, and stiffness in the mid to upper back. The human frame is designed to move, and long hours in one fixed position are not going to help things!
Here are 5 easy stretches that you can do while at work, to keep mobility in the neck and upper back:
1. The Chin Tuck
No, this is not a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure. The chin tuck is a postural position of the neck that takes load off some of common pain generating structures in the neck, as well strengthening the stabilising muscles of the neck, that encourage good posture.
Simply tuck your chin back a few centimetres, to represent a ‘double-chin’. Try not move your head downwards, but more a backwards sliding position. You can add to this, by having your head against a headrest and pushing into it with light pressure. This will help to strengthen the neck muscle.
2. Scapular Setting:
This is another important postural position, that reduces load on the neck, and encourages activation of the upper back muscles, that support the shoulder blades. In a seated position with your elbows by your side, gently draw your shoulder blades back and down together. You should feel the muscles at the base of the shoulder blade working. Be sure avoid shrugging your shoulder blades upwards.
3. Shoulder Rolls:
Move your shoulders in a backwards circular pattern as shown. This helps to improve mobility in the shoulder girdle, and also resets the muscles at the top of your shoulders (upper trapezius), if you find yourself hunching.
Slow, wide circles generally work best.
4. Upper Trapezius Stretch:
Sit on one hand with your palm facing up, ensuring you are sitting up straight and not slouched. Turn your head 45 degrees to the opposite side. With your other hand, grasp the back of your head and lightly pull down, such that you are looking towards your armpit. You should feel a stretch across the top of your shoulder. By altering how much you turn your head, you can target slightly different muscles.
5. Upper Back Rotation:
In the seated position, rotated your upper body as far you can, keeping your pelvis straight. You can hold onto the side of your chair to get some extra stretch. Repeat this slowly from side to side a few times, to keep movement in the thoracic spine. Turning your head to the same side also helps with overall mobility in the upper spine.