Combat Neck & Shoulder Pain With Simple Desk Stretches
Tight shoulders and sitting discomfort may be caused by stress, tension, and overuse. Tension in shoulder blades and neck pain can also be caused by sitting down for long periods of time, bad sitting posture and injuries. Posture issues and incorrect sitting positions can also play a part in the pain you get in neck and shoulders.
The Desk Stretch
Regular breaks to stand and stretch increases productivity. Studies show that regular stretching can reduce neck and shoulder pain, giving many some much needed relief throughout the day. So if you're not stretching at your desk - now is the time to give it a shot!
How often should you stretch when working at a desk?
Taking regular breaks to stretch while working is key to reducing muscle soreness and fatigue as well as preventing neck and shoulder pain. Sit stand desks are perfect for this because they allow you to change position throughout the day. The best thing you can do is to take a short break from your work every 45 minutes and perform some light stretches. These exercises are certain to help relax your upper back, neck and shoulders. If you are currently experiencing neck, shoulder or back issues, always check with your doctor before trying any new exercises.
A few simple stretches that you can do sitting in your chair or standing at your desk are:
Neck stretches help release tension of muscles at the top of the neck and shoulder region.
- Relax and lean your head forward.
- Slowly roll toward one side and hold for 10 seconds.
- Repeat on other side.
- Relax again and lift your chin back to starting position.
- Do this three times for each direction.
Shoulder roll stretches are an ideal stretch to do when you are feeling stressed and are carrying tightness in the neck and shoulder area, especially in the shoulder muscles.
In a position of proper alignment, roll your shoulders up, back, then down in a fluid motion. Repeat these stretches about 10 times and reverse it 10 times. To do shoulder rolls: Start in a proper alignment and roll up, then back, down, up, down. Roll forward 10 times, reverse 10 times. Shoulder shrugs are a similar option that you could also use as an alternate shoulder stretch. This will really help relax the muscles in your neck.
In a seated or standing position, link your fingers behind you and straighten the arms. Gently lift your hands up a few centimeters until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold this stretch for around 10 to 30 seconds. It's best to skip this one if you have shoulder problems.
Hip Flexor Stretch
If you are sitting at your desk and feeling discomfort in hips and lower back, do some stretches!
Stand up to do a standing hip flexor stretch. Place one foot on the floor with the other leg straight behind you. Bend both knees so that your weight shifts onto the front raised heel while maintaining an upright posture through arms outstretched over head. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
This is the back stretch that most people tend to do naturally as it just feels right. The torso stretch is simple but will stretch all the muscles in your upper back, sides and arms. Leaning to either side to stretch will increase the intensity.
To do this torso exercise, interlink your fingers and raise them up towards the roof. Breath deeply as you extend your stretch further. Then on the exhale release your fingers and let your arms come to rest gently back beside you. Repeat this stretch 7-10 times.
Seated Hip Stretch
A good one for those who find themselves sitting all day.
To do this stretch you need to be in a chair with your left foot on the floor and knee at a right angle. Cross your right ankle over your left knee sitting up straight. To really feel the burn on this one, you can push down on your right knee. hold for 15-30 seconds and swap sides.
These are just a few deskercises you can do easily while at the office. Throwing in some of these to your daily sit stand routine may greatly assist in reducing muscle fatigue and pain associated with sedentary behaviour and prevent future pain in your neck muscles and upper back.
Can Sitting at a Desk All Day Cause Neck Pain?
Yes, sitting or standing in the same position for hours at a time can cause neck pain and shoulder tightness. Studies show that regular stretching can reduce neck and shoulder pain.
Some people may think they are getting enough exercise just by moving their fingers from the keyboard to mouse every 15 minutes. This is not true unless you're running around your workspace in between computer sessions!
How Do I Relax My Neck and Shoulders at my Desk?
Shoulder pain is extremely disruptive. You can try shoulder rolls to release neck tension and tightness at the top of the shoulder. Neck and shoulder stretches like the ones suggested above are also helpful for upper body pain. If that's not working, you might need to go for a walk or take a break from your computer screen by doing something else like reading a book, talking on the phone (although don't wedge it between your neck and shoulders) or if you have the luxury of doing so, take a quick nap before getting back in your chair again.
How should you sit at your desk to prevent neck pain?
It's important to keep a correct posture to help reduce the onset of neck pain and muscle fatigue. Using correctly positioned monitors, ergonomic office chairs and ensuring your desk height and chair height are ergonomically correct will help. Not sure how to setup your workstation so that it's ergonomically correct for your body type? Check out our handy desk height calculator which uses your height to work out the correct levels for you.
Tips On Avoiding Neck Pain and Muscle Fatigue
- Use correctly positioned monitors.
- Ensure your desk height and chair height are ergonomically correct, keeping your arms at right angles and feet flat on the floor.
- Sitting too long can cause headaches, neck strain, and shoulder tension no matter how well you maintain your posture.
- Be sure to either change positions if using a sit stand desk.
- Take a break every 30-45 mins if your workflow allows.
- Doing exercises like neck and shoulder stretches during that time can be immensely helpful for muscle tension.
Can a sit stand desk help relieve neck and back pain?
Yes! A stand up desk will help reduce neck and back pain. As part of an active lifestyle, a standing desk with easy height adjustability is a great tool to help break sedentary habits.
Sit stand desks can increase your productivity, energy levels, body health and general well-being. There are studies that have shown sit and stand desks may lead to a decreased risk of heart disease and reduced back pain in standing desk users. Read more about how standing desks are better for your health here.