5 shoulder and neck stretches for when you've been staring at a screen all day

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Stretching is key when working at a DIY desk. These five simple exercises will help loosen your aching muscles.

Sitting down and staring at a screen for so many hours on end is not good for our physical wellbeing, with poor posture placing undue pressure on our necks and shoulders. Constant typing and clicking also causes tension to build up in these same areas. It’s important to practise good posture if you have a desk job – although, for some of us, the issues caused by being seated for large portions of the day may already be causing fairly consistent, substantial discomfort. 

This issue is compounded by the self-isolation measures being imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic. With our commutes cut and the amount of time we’re allowed to spend outside our homes restricted, many of us are working from home and moving very little. 

To try and stave off the aches and pains that so often accompany our desk jobs, you need to make sure you are stretching regularly throughout the day. Try these five simple upper body stretches. They can be done while seated, so they’re easy to fit into a busy work day. 

Shoulder stretches 

Best shoulder stretches: shoulder shrugs

When your shoulders have been hunched and immobile for such a long time, releasing them with this shoulder shrug exercise is a massive relief. Simply lift your shoulders up towards your ears and squeeze. Hold them there for a couple of seconds, before relaxing and returning your shoulders to their starting position. Repeat 10 times. 

Best shoulder stretches: upper shoulder stretches

This exercise helps to really stretch out the tight muscles in your upper trapezius. Reach your right hand over the top of your head and hold it from the left side. Then pull your head gently down towards your right shoulder, and you should feel a stretch down the side of your neck. Hold for around 10 seconds, then release and do the same on the opposite side.

You can also do a similar exercise to stretch out the back of your neck. Just hold the back of your head and push gently downwards, so your chin tucks in at your chest. Hold for 10 seconds, and then repeat two or three times. 

Best shoulder stretches to ease tension and improve posture
“Take regular breaks, do simple stretches at your desk, and get out for a proper walk at some point in the day.”

Best shoulder stretches: shoulder extensions

Lace your fingers together and push your arms up towards the ceiling, with the palms of your hands facing upwards. Make sure you’re reaching as high as you can to make the most of the stretch. Hold for 10 seconds, and then bring your arms back down. Do this two or three times.

A variation on this stretch can help you to release the tension in your upper back and shoulder blades, although you’ll need to stand up to do it. Standing straight, stretch your arms out behind you and hold onto one hand with the other. Carefully lift your arms up, squeeze, and hold for about 10 seconds.  

Neck stretches

Best neck stretches: neck rotations

Your neck is often one of the worst-hit parts of your body when you have a desk job, and neck pain is very common among office workers. Neck rotations are a great way to relieve some of the tension that builds up over the working day.

Tilt your head to the right to start. As with the upper shoulder stretches, you should feel the stretch in your trapezius. Keep your head in position for a few seconds, and then slowly roll your head forwards and towards the left side of your neck. You should feel the muscles in the side of your neck and upper back stretching as you move. Hold here for another few seconds, and then roll your head back and to the right. That is one rep. Repeat a few times. 

Best neck stretches: neck retraction

Sit with your back straight and chin tucked in slightly. Keeping your head level throughout the movement, slide your head back as far as possible and hold in place for around 10 seconds, before returning to the starting position. Repeat 10 times. 

Want to learn more stretches? Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram to watch as our certified trainers go over different stretches and their benefits every Friday on #StretchTheWeekOut. You can also learn more in the STRETCH highlight of our handle.

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Image credit: Getty

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