Stretches for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Stretches for Neck and shoulder Pain

We are all working hard right now to get our desks clear in time for the holiday season. Stress levels are rising and this leads to neck and shoulder pain and tension.

Long hours at your desk or craning towards your laptop in the evenings can really exacerbate neck and shoulder pain. Don’t underestimate how much lifestyle can affect your body.¬† The key factor in muscle pain is often just the sheer number of hours you spend doing the same old things with no respite.I am always amazed at how much people expect their bodies to do without exercise, or worse, if they are actually taking time to exercise, without stretching out.

If your neck and shoulders are hurting then take a break. Go and get a coffee, Do a few simple stretches. Your neck and shoulders do a big job supporting your head and sitting hunched forward over your desk closes up your chest and puts strain on the muscles which keep your shoulder joints moving freely. Some gentle stretches will prevent these muscles from getting locked into position – remember to do the stretching gently, the idea is to make the muscles more comfortable not to pull them in the process.

Here are a few simple stretches you can try, always proceed gently and don’t overstretch.

The Levator Scapula is always a nuisance, it runs from the base of your skull to the corner of your shoulder blade. Always try to keep your head in a neutral position, as though it were floating from a balloon. If you feel a burning point of pain between your shoulder blade and spine about mid-way down your shoulder blade try gently dropping your head forward and then stretching it to an angle of approximately 45 degrees first in one direction, holding for a slow minute and then in the other direction. Remember to drop down the shoulder which you are stretching away from. If you move your head slightly more towards your shoulder it will then stretch the Trapezius along the side of your neck too.

To stretch across your upper back , stretch one arm out straight in front of you and with the other arm placed just above its elbow, pull the straight arm gently towards your body until you can feel the stretch behind your shoulder blade. Repeat with the opposite arm. It is essential  that you stretch your chest muscles to relieve the pressure on your back, you can do this whilst you wait for the coffee machine! Just stand in a door frame with your hands placed at chest level on the frame, then just lean your body forwards through the doorway until you feel the stretch on your chest and hold until its your turn at the coffee machine.

I would always advocate regular massage for neck and shoulder pain. It does lots to ease the tension in the upper body. It can sometimes take a little while to reap the benefits, many patients come to me in desperation after conventional medicine has failed to ease their symptoms. Often though, just one treatment will make a significant difference.

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