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Desk Stretches Part 1 – Head, Neck and Shoulders

Working from a desk can cause aches and pains. For no apparent reason you can feel head, neck or shoulder pain, sometimes these aches and pains reoccur every time you are back at the desk. This blog shows you how to overcome these desk based aches and pains in your head, neck and shoulders.

Working from a desk is a static task and from what I am hearing Working from Home is causing us to move less during each day. Colleagues are no longer asking for a quick meeting away from your desk. We are not popping out for a coffee or a snack. We are desk bound. This lack of movement alone can cause aches and pains. So I have some techniques for you to combat the stasis without leaving your desk.

One of the most common regions of your upper body that cause aches and pains are the temples (a temporal headache), neck and shoulders. Below I outline four relieving routines for you to do 3 times a day:

Head, Neck and Shoulders desk routine

  1. Massage the temples
  2. The temporal muscle controls your jaw and can contain trigger points that cause headache symptoms.
    By resting your elbows on the table and placing your finger pads on the side of your head you can massage this muscle doing circular motions. Try to gently move the skin over the underlying muscle. A good tip is to slowly open and close your jaw at the same time as massaging. Try for 1min, three times a day. Click here for a short video on the technique.

  3. Shoulder rolls
  4. Rolling your shoulders is fantastic for shifting the stiffness that occurs in the muscles of your neck and shoulders. Try to draw the largest circle you can with your shoulders and do these circles slowly.
    Start by lifting your shoulders up towards your ears and slowly move the shoulders backwards by squeezing your shoulder blades together and sticking your chest out. Feel for the bottom of the circle by depressing your shoulders before rotating them forwards and bowing your back out. Repeat 5x each way, three times a day.

  5. Neck movements
  6. To help relieve the muscles controlling your neck they need to move. When you are sitting your neck muscles are working to hold your head still. These muscles are tight and not using their large range of movement. Muscles need to be active throughout their range of movement to flush through the fluids that get rid of toxins and provide nutrients to maintain health. These range of movement exercises oppose the static nature of desk work. Hold each movement for 10sec, three times a day.

  7. UFT Stretch
  8. This final task extends to the muscles from the neck to the shoulders. It stretches the upper fibres of Trapezius (UFT) and your Levator Scapulae muscles that both attach to the upper neck and down to the shoulder. You can do the stretch seated. Hold the stretch for at least 30sec, perform on both sides three times a day.

Of course your neck and shoulder pains could be caused by your desk set up or the way you are using your mobile phone. Check out my Home Ergonomics post and my Tech Neck blog post for more information.

Extra Tip
Working from Home has us moving less. We have cut out the commute which is a blessing but the lack of movement before the start of your desk-based-day is a curse. When you are asleep the body does plenty of maintenance jobs that create waste products. To flush through all your body’s toxins built up during the night your body needs movement.
My extra tip is to get your body moving first thing in the morning. For a gentle and quick 5min morning wake-up please follow the link for a Qigong based warm-up routine.
If you have had no time to warm up do the following two actions in my blog Physical Inactivity at Work.

Back to Balance Osteopathy provides wonderful treatments and advise for your unique circumstances. Its a great way to break down any stubborn barriers you may hold in your body.

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