Desk stretches can help relieve neck pain from sitting at a computer.

Desk Stretches to Relieve Neck Pain

In these times of endless virtual meetings and daily working from home, it’s not uncommon to spend more than 8 hours in front of a screen every day. While it’s true that screen fatigue can take a toll on your eyes and mental state, that’s not all that’s affected by all this desk duty—your sitting posture at the computer can wreak havoc on your neck and shoulders, too! If you find yourself waking up in the mornings with a “crick” in your neck or rubbing your shoulders during conference calls, try these simple desk stretches to gently loosen and stretch your cervical spine.

Let’s get moving!

Exercises for Desk-Related Shoulder and Neck Pain

1️. Neck Mobility Circles

  • Draw circles with your head, leading the motion with the tip of your nose.
  • Start small, then gradually increase the size of your circles to encourage a greater range of motion.
  • Notice if you have any “flat” spots in your circles, popping sounds, pain, or stretching in your neck or upper shoulder region.
  • Draw 4-5 circles, then reverse your direction and repeat.
  • You can do this seated or standing, but try it while lying on your back to allow your neck to be fully supported by the floor.

2️. Active Side Stretch

  • Slowly drop your chin to your chest.
  • Keep your chin lowered, then slowly turn your head to stack your left ear over your left shoulder.
  • Lower your chin back to the middle, then repeat on the right side.
  • Let your head hang heavy as you pass through the center, move slowly, and give the sides of your neck a brief pause to stretch in between motions.
  • Repeat 3-4 times each side, then slowly bring your gaze back up and stack your head over your body.

3️. Cervical Retraction

  • Keeping your eyes level, pull your chin backward and lengthen the back of your neck.
  • You may even feel a stretch in between your shoulder blades—this is totally normal!
  • Release, then repeat 5-6 times.

Office Ergonomics: Stay Ahead of Neck Pain

I happen to believe that the best treatment for neck pain is prevention, and that’s especially true when it comes to proper alignment while working on the computer. If you’ve been working at your kitchen table on work-from-home days—or worse, working on the couch with a laptop in your lap—consider reevaluating your desk setup so you can relieve and prevent neck and shoulder pain. The Mayo Clinic has a fantastic guide on optimal office ergonomics, and even a few simple tweaks to your existing setup can make a world of difference in how you feel at the end of a long day at your desk.

Beyond Desk Stretches: Pilates for Neck Pain

Need more help with neck and shoulder pain? I’d love to help! Pilates is a wonderful way to correct your postural alignment, take undue pressure off your joints, and create ease in your everyday movement. Learn more about private Pilates sessions with me, Allie, and give yourself the priceless gift of a pain free workday.

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