5 Exercises for Neck/Back pain at your desk 06/07/2020

Lockdown has presented us with a load of new changes, challenges and discoveries with our physical and mental health, positive or negative. And for many, like myself, we have had to change the way we work to accommodate lockdown restrictions.


For me personally, I’ve had to hold Online Consultations¬†instead of face to face appointments, attend online webinars and CPD, and host Webinars instead of attending courses or hosting Workshops. I’ve never had a desk based job, and I certainly feel I’m closer to one than ever before! I am just not used to the hours of sitting down & staring at one screen.


And then I start experiencing what I’ve heard patients complain hundreds & thousands of times in the past, that they have ‘Tight shoulders’, ‘Neck/Back pain’ from being seated for longer periods of time. Many try stretching for pain relief, regular breaks from the desk, walking, changing positions of their desk, raising the computer screen etc. All of these interventions do work, and can work. However, it is easy to get distracted from the reasons behind the pain. So what are they, and what are we missing?


If stretching your neck, shoulder or back has not relieved the symptoms of being sat at your desk, is it really working? Are you still suffering from it, in the same way, worse or less than at the start of lockdown? There’s a famous quote (not from Einstein I’ve been told), ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’. Is this true for you and stretching?


Maybe it’s worth trying something else, such as some simple exercises and some basic mobility drills? Here are some of the things I’m doing, and encouraging others to do throughout their working day from home.


  • Seated Thoracic Extension 0:47 secs
  • Isometric Neck Extension & Lateral Flexion 1:38 secs
  • Dynamic Kneeling Hip Flexor & Hamstring Stretch 2:57 secs
  • Dynamic Hamstring, Trunk & Hip Flexor Stretch 4:40 secs
  • Upper Traps Shrug with Bag for Life/Dumbbell 6:12 secs

Typically I hold these exercises for 10-15 secs, you can do more or less depending on your symptoms. For the Dynamic Kneeling stretches I do at least 10-15 reps on each side/muscle group at least. For the Upper Traps Shrug, as I’m trying to get some relief I don’t do this exercise to exhaustion. However, I do increase the intensity during a workout.


The reason why I choose to do these and give them to patients, is because our soft tissue (muscle, ligaments, tendons) work very hard when we are seated. Overtime they will get tired or overused, then became an issue by being painful. If you can strengthen these areas to deal with the loads while sitting down, you may see a change in symptoms. It is worth a try, especially if stretching hasn’t made a significant difference.

As always seek professional advice if you are experiencing severe or debilitation symptoms, just so you can get a bespoke rehab plan for you. Let me know how you get on! If you’d like to book an appointment with me, just click here https://hoss-sportstherapy.co.uk/contact-us/

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