Exercises for neck and shoulder pain
We’ve all felt it…. It’s the afternoon, and you’ve had a long day at your desk. The dull ache begins between your shoulder blades, creeps up into your neck and sometimes even begins to pound in your head. You try to shake it off, or pop a paracetamol, but it keeps coming back, day after day!
At Mobilise, our Myotherapists and Remedial Massage Therapists treat work related neck and back pain every day. As well as a comprehensive assessment and treatment, our patients receive a detailed home rehabilitation plan to help keep the pain away. Here is a general version of that plan for you to use whenever you’re feeling those aches at work.
Use these simple rehab exercises and stretches before and after work every day. Also, a HEAT PACK for 20 mins on your shoulders and neck can help nightly!
Please note, DO NOT USE these exercises if you have any pins and needles/numbness/tingling in your arms, upper back or face, or if you have any history of injury to your neck. Instead, book an appointment with one of our expert Myotherapists and we will tailor a safe rehab plan, just for you. Also, none of these exercises or stretches should cause neural (pins & needles, numbness, tingling) symptoms or excessive pain.
Gentle Neck Flexion Stretch
Sit up nice and straight, and place both hands behind your head. Gently look downwards, so your chin is towards your chest. If you feel a nice stretch in the back of your neck, stop here and hold for 15 seconds. If you’d like a slightly deeper stretch, gently push your head further down with your hands.
Lateral Neck Stretch
Again, sitting straight up. Let one arm drop straight down, take the other arm and reach over your head. Place your hand on the opposite side of your head, and gently pull your head sideways – see the picture. Hold for 15 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
Levator Scapulae Stretch
This is the money stretch! The levator scapulae muscle runs from your shoulder blade into your neck, and works really hard when you sit at a desk all day. To stretch it out, put your chin on your chest, and then rotate your head to either the left or right (you’ll do both sides). Then gently pull your head downwards so that you are looking down between your armpit and your chest. Hold 15 seconds, and repeat on the opposite side.
This exercise strengthens the front neck muscles, that weaken when you’re a desk worker. This is kind of like the “core strengthening” for the neck and shoulder region (along with shoulder retraction, which our Myotherapists will prescribe if needed as well). When the front neck muscles become weaker, the upper back and posterior neck muscles have to work harder – leading to aches and pains in that area. To perform the exercise, lie on a fairly firm surface (yoga mat, carpeted floor), with a rolled up towel sitting at the top of your neck, right under the base of your skull. Then tuck your chin, while pushing the base of your skull into the towel. Do 3 sets of 10 per day.
Find a doorway, and raise your arms to 90 degrees, and bend your elbows, as shown in picture. Then lean into the doorway with your chest. Make sure your arms and shoulders do not hurt – this is a stretch for your chest. Hold for 15 seconds.
Try these rehab exercises when you’re feeling sore or achy at your desk. If you’d like a personal assessment and plan to manage your neck and back pain, or if you have a more complex issue, please come and see our experienced Myotherapists and Remedial Massage Therapists in our Brisbane clinic today! Book online here.