Struggling with Neck and Back pain due to office-based work?
Particularly now that people are working from home in altered ergonomic setups, we are seeing a number of clients with neck and back pain. Here below is a helpful blog with neck and back stretches from Brett the Principal Physiotherapist at Physio on Ross.
Helpful Neck Stretches – by Brett Cunningham
We are regularly asked for some basic neck stretches to assist headaches and general upper back tightness. This is especially common for students, drivers, administrators, computer workers etc that spend a lot of time in rounded postures. Any stretch basically should be held for 10-15 seconds, and do approximately 3 or 4 of each stretch at any one time. Personally I’m not a huge fan of saying “You must do these 3 times a day” but I encourage regular sessions with not much in each, rather than 3 times a day for 15 minutes each. Stretches don’t cut into your day with time. They can be done in the shower, sitting at a red light, waiting for the kettle etc –“a little bit here, a little bit there”. If you are tight you will feel a stretching discomfort. This is not a problem-remember you are probably tight so you need the stretch. If you weren’t so tight it probably wouldn’t hurt so much. I don’t like prescriptive exercises for all patients but the following 5 stretches are probably the simplest helpful stretches that I’ve used over my 32 year physio career.
As seen in the photo some patients like to assist their neck sideways with the opposite hand. This is an individual preference.
2. Levator scapulae.
This movement is a combination of first the head sideways towards an ear ( like the upper trapezius stretch), then add the head going forwards, and finally allow the head to turn into the closest armpit. The assistance from the opposite hand isn’t always used-that again is an individual preference, nor is a hand required behind a back.
3. Pull shoulders back/posture
Simply pull your shoulders back. Whether the hands are on your waist or whether they join behind your back doesn’t matter
4. Arch back over chair back rest
Note different seat heights will give a stretch into different parts of the upper back. We can also adjust the backrest height and ultimately the site of stretch by sliding further down the chair or even sitting on a pillow
5. Double chin/chin tuck
This is probably required more for computer workers. If you could sit side on and watch long term computer operators they tend to lead with their chin/poke chinned. With this stretch you are not looking up or down. The eyes remain level as if someone is pushing the whole face equally backwards to make a double chin. It is a weird movement so possibly practice in front of a mirror. I advise not to do it in front of clients and staff as you do look quite strange doing it.
Remember not one recipe of exercises suits everyone.
I don’t mind a stretching discomfort during but you are NOT to have latent significant soreness (for more than 30 minutes) after. If so or you’re uncertain please cease your stretching , or make contact.
We have only discussed a few stretches for neck pathology, there are others that some patients need, and we haven’t even addressed postural strengthening which is the other half of recovery/rehabilitation.
Any queries or concerns please don’t hesitate to make contact with Physio on Ross, Townsville on 47282116 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org