The most common desk related aches and pains we hear of in the Myotherapy clinic are neck, shoulders, back and wrists not to mention headaches! Here are some simple stretches you can try and see if they help alleviate your aches and pains. But first a couple of ground rules. If you have any medical issues clear a new stretch routine with your doctor first; it sounds harmless, but for some people stretching can make things worse. If the stretch doesn’t feel good, stop and go see your musculoskeletal practitioner for an assessment and some more precise stretches specific to your needs. Happy stretching!
Neck Roll – To help gently stretch and increase blood flow to the muscles and tendons around the back and sides of the neck.
- Hold onto the base of your chair with both hands to draw and hold your shoulders away from your ears.
- Take your chin to your chest.
- Roll your head to the left so that your left ear becomes closer to your left shoulder.
- Go back the way you came and roll to the right side.
- Continue to roll from left to right with your chin over your chest the whole time.
- Try 3 to 5 roles each way and repeat several times throughout the day.
Chin Tuck – to counter the likelihood of developing a head forward posture or if you already have one, to start to rectify the head forward posture. Also stretches the muscles commonly associated with headaches.
- Look straight ahead to make your head parallel and make sure you are sitting tall in your chair.
- Without dropping your chin, take your head backwards in space and attempt to make a ‘double chin’ face.
- As you come back to the start try to think of your head stopping so that it rests in line with the rest of your spine rather than poking forward.
- Repeat 3 to 5 times and repeat many times throughout the day.
Don’t do this exercise on days you have a headache as it can make it worse in some cases. If you already have a very straight neck, this exercise may not be right for you, check with your musculoskeletal practitioner first.
Forearm stretches – to alleviate sore forearms, wrists and elbows.
- Outstretch your right arm with your palm facing towards the computer, then turn your fingers to face towards the floor.
- Use your other hand to gently pull back on the base of the fingers until a stretch is felt on the underside of your forearm.
- Hold for approximately 30 seconds.
- Slowly take your hand position in the other direction so your palm faces back towards you with your finger remaining towards the floor.
- Again use your other hand to gently apply a stretch holding at the base of the fingers.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the left side.
You can repeat this stretch many times throughout the day or as maintenance a couple of times a day at a minimum. It’s also nice to throw in a few wrist circles each way.
Shoulder circles – to loosen and aid blood flow to the muscles around the shoulder girdle. These muscle can also be associated with headaches.
- Place your hands softly on your shoulders.
- Circle your elbows by bringing the towards each other first then up, out and down.
- Repeat 5-10 circles each way.
Repeat many times throughout the day or as maintenance at least a couple of times per day, perhaps at the middle and end of your day.
Upper back stretch – to help relieve tension from postural muscles through the upper back and shoulders. These muscles can also be associated with headaches.
- Cross your left arm over your right with arms outstretched and interlink the fingers.
- Stretch your arms forward whilst gently arching the upper back and at the same time suck in the tummy a little to increase the stretch. A good visual is like someone is pulling your hands forward and you are trying to resist them.
- Hold for about 5 seconds the slowly roll your spine back to the start position.
- Repeat 5 times then try switching your hands around the other way for another 5.
This stretch can be performed a few times throughout the day. 2-3 times per day should be enough.
If you are a visual learner try YouTube or google images to find some pics or videos of these stretches. Come and see us for a session if these stretches aren’t helping, you might be doing it incorrectly or you might have a musculoskeletal condition that needs some other type of intervention. Furthermore, I would love to hear your comments on how these stretches are working for you. Give me your feedback!