How To Prevent Back Pain At Work: Six Upper Back Stretches To Loosen Your Neck and Shoulder Muscles

Six upper back stretches to loosen your neck and shoulder muscles at work and prevent back pain

Six upper back and shoulder stretches to prevent back pain at work

We all know that sitting in front of a computer all day is bad for you. A poor posture whilst working on a keyboard for long hours will result in stiffness and back pain. So here are six stretches you can do to help loosen your neck and shoulder muscles, without the need for equipement. The exercises are taken from Prevent Back Pain: Upper Back and Neck Exercises For A Correct Posture. View the video here

  1. Neck and Shoulders. Being hunched over a keyboard stiffens the neck and shoulders. Cervical Stars will improve range of motion in your neck rotators, flexors and extensors and help relieve neck pain. Sit or stand, keeping your neck, shoulders, and torso straight. Keeping your chin level, look straight ahead. Imagine that there is a star in front of you with a vertical line, a horizontal line, and two diagonal lines. Trace the star shape with your head and neck by following the vertical line up and down three times. Next, follow the horizontal line once.Now, trace the two diagonal lines. Return to the start position, and repeat five times.iGlimpse tip: move in a smooth, controlled manner and avoid hunching or tensing your shoulders.Warning: not advisable if you have numbness running down your arm or into your hand.
  2. Back and Obliques. The Latissimus Dorsi Stretch will help restore flexibility in the back and obliques and correct bad posture. Stand, keeping your neck, shoulders, and torso straight. Raise both arms above your head and clasp your hands together, palms facing upward. Keeping your elbows straight, reach to the side to begin tracing a circular pattern with your torso. Lean forward and then to the opposite side as you slowly trace a full circle. Return to the starting position, and then repeat the sequence three times in each direction. iGlimpse Tips: Elongate your arms and shoulders as much as possible, and avoid leaning backward as you come to the top of the circle. Warnings: not advisable if you have lower back pain. You will find this exercise presented in graphical step by step in the xxx app.
  3. Upper Back and Back Extensors. The Chair Twist will increase your thoracic rotation and stretch your rhomboid muscles. Sit upright on a chair, with your legs separated and your feet planted firmly on the floor. Moving slowly, extend your upper back and lean forward while twisting to the left from the waist. Reach your right hand to the front left leg of the chair to stabilize your body. Lift and rotate your torso while keeping your hand firmly on the chair leg. Slowly return to the starting position, and then reach to the right side. Repeat five times in each direction. iGlimpse Tip: lower yourself to only as far as you feel a distinct and sufficient stretch, and avoid lifting your buttocks off the chair. Warning: not advisable if you have A Torn rotator cuff OR shoulder instability.
  4. Shoulders and Arms. After working for an extended period at your desk you will get stiff shoulders and arms. The Shoulder Stretch will improve your range of motion. Sit or stand, keeping your neck, shoulders, and torso straight. Raise your right arm, and bend it behind your head. Keeping your shoulders relaxed, grasp your raised elbow with your left hand, and gently pull back. Continue to pull your elbow back until you feel the stretch on the underside of your arm. Hold for fifteen seconds. Repeat three times on each arm. iGlimpse Tip: keep your dropped elbow close to the side of your head, and avoid leaning backward. Warning: not advisable if you have shoulder instability.
  5. Upper Trunk and Ribs. The Open Book Stretch increases thoracic flexibility, opens up the rib cage and relaxes the upper trunk. It’s the perfect antidote to a long day at the screen and will help provide a more relaxed night’s sleep. Lie flat on your back. Place your left hand on your right knee to keep your knee from moving. With your right hand, grab your rib cage. Rotate your trunk to the right, stretching as far as possible. Hold for fifteen seconds. Repeat the stretch, moving to the left side. iGlimpse Tip: keep your lower leg flat on the floor and avoid bouncing while stretching. Warning: not advisable if you have severe lower-back pain.
  6. Shoulders and Chest. The benefits of the Scapular Range of Motion stretch include improved range of motion, more relaxed shoulders, chest, neck and upper-back muscles. Sit or stand, keeping your neck, shoulders, and torso in a relaxed, neutral position. Keeping your chin level, look straight ahead. With your arms at your side, bend your elbows slightly. Hold your hands with the palms up. Roll your shoulders forward, concentrating on separating your scapula from your spine. Roll your shoulders back and slightly upward, squeezing your scapulae together. Roll your shoulders down and backward. Lower your shoulders while continuing to squeeze your scapulae together. Lower your shoulders to the neutral starting position. Repeat entire sequence three times. iGlimpse Tip: move your shoulders in a smooth, controlled manner, and avoid moving your torso. Warning: not advisable if you have a severe shoulder injury.

These upper back, neck and shoulder stretched are taken from The Prevent Upper Back Pain App which provides a variety of targeted exercises that stretch, strengthen, and stabilize important muscles and ligaments that support your neck and back. To get the full benefit of these exercises check out the full colour illustrations in the app that show clearly which muscles are working during each exercise. It’s a complete program that includes stretches, balance and posture exercises as well as warm-ups and cool-downs to get rid of your pain and regain the flexibility and strength.

The exercises are authored by Dr Philip Striano, a certified chiropractic sports physician and strength and conditioning specialist. He received his doctor of chiropractic degree from New York Chiropractic College.

Our content is not intended to substitute the diagnosis and advice of a doctor, chiropractic or physician. Consult a physician before starting any exercise or nutritional program. Please view our disclosure page.

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