Every day I have patients come to the office complaining of neck and upper back tension or pain. In the majority of cases, there was not a single event that led to this pain, and the patient often has no idea why they began having the issue. Once I begin taking a history and asking questions about their daily lives, I find that they sit at a computer all day at work. Then, after an exam, I find that they have very poor posture. Patients are surprised that something as simple as poor computer posture can lead to the pain that they have experienced for years. Here are some simple stretches that I recommend patients do daily while sitting at their desk to help improve posture and relieve their pain.
The first stretch I recommend uses all six ranges of motion in your neck. First, take your chin to your chest and hold for 15 seconds. Next, lean your head back and look toward the ceiling and hold for another 15 seconds. The next two stretches involve trying to touch your ear to each shoulder, however just move you neck to the side, don’t attempt to raise you shoulder to meet your ear. Again, hold each side for 15 seconds. Finally, turn you head to look behind each shoulder, keeping your upper back stationary and just moving your neck, and hold for 15 seconds.
The next stretch targets the muscles at the top of your shoulders. Shrug your shoulders up toward your ear and hold for 5 seconds. Now roll your shoulders back, pushing your shoulder blades together, and then return to neutral. Repeat this exercise 10 times.
The last exercise is used to stretch the muscles in your upper back. Stretch both of your arms in front of you, as far as possible, with your palms touching each other. Now, try to place your chin to your chest, and hold for 15 seconds.
Complete these three stretches three times a day to help improve your posture and relief tension in you neck and upper back. If any of these stretches cause you pain, stop immediately and consult with your chiropractor. With these simple stretches, and regular chiropractic adjustments, you’ll be tension free in no time!