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Desk Exercises to Relieve Neck Pain and Tension

As working professionals, we’re all familiar with working long hours in front of the computer, shoulders hunched and neck straining. By the end of the day, we’re left with a sore neck, aching shoulders, back pain, and maybe even a terrible headache. Sometimes it’s even coupled with a full-on body pain that makes you feel like you’ve run a triathlon but in reality, you were just typing information away at your desk. 

Most people don’t realize that working for long hours in front of the computer is the cause of neck pain, back pain, bad posture, and poor circulation. It also increases the risk of overall lower quality of health and life. It’s a good thing though that neck pain, tension, and ailments that come with it can still be remedied by taking breaks from your desk, making sure to move around, and doing a few exercises. Periodic stretching of the neck and upper back muscles can help prevent and relieve neck pain and headaches. 

In this article, we’ve rounded up a couple of exercises for men and women that you can do at your desk — be it in the office, at home, or even at your kitchen table. Let’s get right to it so that you can move more and pave the way to a pain-free lifestyle. 

How Do I Stop My Neck From Hurting When I Sit At My Desk?

Perhaps your first instinct when you experience neck and upper back pain is to do neck rolls. Research has shown that doing neck rolls are actually bad as it could put stress on the spine. Worry not though, for there are other things you can do. Stretching is one way to relieve neck and upper back pain. 

Here are a couple of stretch exercises that you can do to release the tension and reduce the pain on your neck and upper back. These are very simple to do and would only need a few moments of your time. 

What is the Fastest Way to Relieve Neck Tension?

There are many ways to relieve neck pain, but one of the things that you can do right away is relax your shoulders and tilt your head from side to side. Begin by sitting tall. Tilt and point your head slowly to the side with your right ear leaning toward the right shoulder. As you do this, feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. To deepen the stretch, you can try to roll the left shoulder down and away from the ear. Bring your head back to center and repeat the steps on the other side. 

How Do I Relieve Neck Pain From My Computer?

When we sit in front of the computer and stare at our screens, we tend to rely on our necks a lot, turning it into a forward head carriage. This results in neck muscles going into spasm and ending up with us experiencing pain in the head, temples, and behind the eyes. To relieve pain experienced by the neck muscles, you can do this quick stretch. 

Raise your arms and place your hands on the base of your neck. Your elbows must point out to the sides. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, drop your chin towards your chest while pulling your elbows down towards the floor. In a gentle manner, let the weight of your hands and arms weigh your head down further. Take a few deep breaths before releasing the position.

How Can I Relax My Shoulders at My Desk?

There are a number of stretches that you can do to relieve shoulder pain while at your desk. Doing these not only helps in reducing the pain, it can also improve your posture and release the stress built up in your muscles. You can do these 2 or 3 times a day. Try them out!

Scapular Retraction

Roll your shoulders forward and backward to loosen them up. Next, move the bottoms of your shoulder blades down your back, a little towards the midline. The top of your shoulders should be relaxed. Hold the pose for several seconds, and let go. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Chin to Shoulder Stretch

Begin by pointing your chin towards your right shoulder. Next, tilt your chin down slightly. Gently put your right hand on the left side of your head and pull your chin closer to your shoulder slowly. You should feel a stretch in the left side and back of your neck. Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat on the left. Do this for 3 to 4 times.

Chest Opener

To do this one, start by scooting to the edge of your chair. You can also stand if you wish. Even better, you can use this as an excuse to walk around to find a quiet spot in the office. Straighten your spine as you do so. Raise your arms and clasp your hands behind your back, and you can also interlace your fingers. Press your palms toward each other if you can. If possible, you can also tilt your chin toward the ceiling to open your chest and shoulder more. 

Statistics and research show that stretching even just for a few minutes in between work can greatly relieve your neck muscles from all the pain. It can also alleviate you of shoulder pain, back pain, and more. It can also improve your posture and help clear your head, allowing you to work better and be even more productive. Less pains and aches in the upper body area can translate to an overall better health and well-being. Try out one or all of the exercises we mentioned in between your work days and see how you fare! 

Fancy doing a bit of a workout at your desk? Check out these workouts to strengthen your core.

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.