Reduce Neck and Shoulder Tension while at your Desk

In an ideal world, we would all be moving our bodies throughout the day, helping to keep our muscles and joints loose and flexible. Unfortunately, sitting is the norm for most people, and sitting tends to do just the opposite. It makes our joints and muscles stiff and sore, promotes poor posture, and over long periods of time can trigger the start of degenerative conditions like arthritis. So, if you don’t have the option to use a standing desk at work and you are forced to sit for long periods, here are a few exercises and stretches that you can do right in your office throughout the day to help minimize the damage of sitting.

Self-deep tissue release

Using a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, golf ball, or something similar, start massaging into your upper chest and out towards your shoulder. Use moderate pressure. Expect this to be tender and uncomfortable but don’t press so hard you are tensing up. As a rule of thumb, only push hard enough to reach a 5-6/10 on the pain scale. Work both sides for 2-3 minutes.

Pec and shoulder stretch

For this stretch, find a doorway or wall that you can use. Place your arms in the doorway about shoulder or head height and slowly lean through the door. You should feel this stretch in the front of your shoulders and chest. Again, this may be uncomfortable, but you should be able to take slow deep breaths in and keep your body relaxed as you hold for 30 seconds.

Postural Muscle Activation

After releasing and stretching the tightened muscles, it’s time to activate the muscles in our upper and mid backs that often get turned off when we sit with slouched posture. Doing this will help keep your shoulders and neck aligned with the rest of your body, helping to maintain good posture.  Start with your arms down by your hips. Twist your hands so your palms face forward and your thumbs point outward. Gently pull your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together (imagine you are trying to squeeze a tennis ball between your shoulder blades). The key to this exercise is that your upper traps (muscles at the top of your shoulders) don’t tense up. Squeeze and hold gently for 2-3 seconds, relax and repeat 5-10 times.

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