How many times have you heard someone say that they’ve woken up with a ‘kink’ in their neck? It’s a common expression but doesn’t always occur overnight. Neck problems are, unfortunately, increasingly prevalent, especially among office workers. Sitting at a desk every day can result in stiffness, if not remedied with intermittent stretches.
It’s especially important to ensure that your computer screen is set at the right height to prevent slouching and straining. Even if you aren’t experiencing soreness or tightness in the neck, ensure you carry out these stretches regularly – prevention is key when it comes to combating aches and pains!
Start simple with neck turns, which are easy to execute either sitting down or standing up. All you need to do is breath in deep, and turn your head to look over your right shoulder on the exhale. Inhale again and turn your head back so that you’re looking straight ahead, then exhale and turn your head to look over your left shoulder. Inhale again, and return to facing forwards. Repeat this three to four times, and it will help relieve stiffness caused by staring in one direction for a prolonged period.
Seated neck release
This stretch is great for the side of your neck and, once again, is relatively gentle and easy to achieve. Place your right arm down by your side and lift your left arm up and over your head, so that your left hand is holding your right ear. Gently pull your head towards your left shoulder and hold for twenty seconds. Release and repeat on your right side.
Levator scapula stretch
For this stretch, you will need to utilise a wall or door jamb. Facing the wall, rest your right arm from the elbow to your fingertips against it, slightly above shoulder height. Ensure that your hand is placed flat against the wall. Gently turn your head towards your left shoulder, tilting your chin downwards toward your shoulder. Hold this position for thirty seconds and then repeat on the opposite side. This stretch will help lengthen the levator scapulae muscle, which can take a long time to heal if left to stiffen for too long.
It’s important to remember not to roll your neck, as this can put stress on your cervical spine when bending and rotating it backwards. Simple and regular tilts will ease stiffness and increase flexibility. Do this several times during the day to prevent neck pain. If you’re looking for other ways to avoid neck, shoulder and back pain when working in an office all day, see our posture tips for office workers article.