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closed eyes woman cupping her neck with both hands

Neck and Shoulder Pain At Work? Try this!

Even before Covid, people have been prone to spending hours in front of a computer, either for work, school, or even just for entertainment. This is what we are going to fix here by doing some simple neck and shoulder exercises for office workers.  And when we’re in front of computers, we tend to disregard our posture. Most people who sit in front of their computers all day tend to lean their necks forward. Long periods in this position are bound to give referral pain patterns. It is important to do short exercises that will get them into neck extension. Before we even begin with exercises, there is an important thing to consider. The chairs that you or your patients use must be of the right height for the legs and back. It must have back support and elbow rests. This is important because often, an uncomfortable chair can affect our posture when we sit, which is one of the leading causes of neck and shoulder pain.

Step-by-Step Guide for the Neck and Shoulder Office Exercise

In this article, I will share with you a few easy exercises to check your range. It is important to see how comfortable you are when you go into flexion, extension, and rotation. These exercises (neck and shoulder office exercises) will help determine whether you feel any restrictions in your movement whatsoever.

For the neck:

  1. Sit up straight, slowly tilt your head forward, bringing your chin to the chest.
  2. From this position, slowly tilt your head upward, until you are looking at the ceiling.
  3. Return to the starting position, looking straight ahead.
  4. Turn your head gently to the left, then to the right. Return to the starting position.
  5. Lastly, slowly lower your head to your right shoulder. You should be able to do this at a 45-degree angle without any restrictions. The shoulders should not hitch up, and instead, remain still.
  6. Return to the starting position, and repeat, slowly tilting towards the left shoulder.

Arm ranges to check with adductions, abductions, and flexions:

  1. For the starting position, hold your arms out on both sides.
  2. Raise both hands up overhead. Repeat 5 times. this is to check elevation.
  3. Return to starting position. Then slowly swing your arms forward to check horizontal flexion. Repeat 5 times.
  4. Return to starting position, then stretch them backward to check extension. Pull your shoulders back as far you can. Repeat 5 times.
  5. Lastly, do figure of 8 movements.

For the elbows:

  1. Hold out your arms in front of you, palms up.
  2. Bend your elbows up towards you. Repeat this 5 times, then return to the starting position.
  3. Twist your arms outward gently. This is to test internal and external rotation.
  4. Lastly, try to do the figure of 8s movement with your elbows.

For the wrists and hands:

  1. You will start with the same starting position as the one from elbows. Bend your wrists upward five times.
  2. Then, move them from side to side.
  3. Lastly, do figure of 8 movements.
  4. Go back to starting position, then flip your hand over so that your palms are facing down.
  5. Bend your fingers 5 times.
  6. Then stretch them out, holding them apart from each other. Repeat this five times
  7. Lastly, try making piano movements with your fingers.

Another tip for your neck and shoulder office exercises

After these neck and shoulder office exercises, make them go through the neck ranges again, to see if they get any changes. Another tip I have today is to tuck the chin back into your neck. I always use the analogy of pretending that someone you really don’t like is coming up to you and is trying to give you a great big kiss on the chin. Naturally, you would be recoiling your head back.
  1. Tuck the chin in. This is the starting position.
  2. Hold your arms out to your sides, and then pull your shoulders back, like step 4 for the arm movements. hold for 10 seconds.
  3. Relax.
  4. Repeat it 5 more times.
I recommend doing these 2 to 3 times every day, as doing so will give you a lot more flexibility as well as reduce the pain in your neck and shoulders. For a demonstration of the movements, please watch the video.
both hands massaging man's neck

Target Platysma or Neck Pain Easily using this Method!

This is one of my 3 favourite muscle names in the body – it’s in your neck and it’s called the platysma! First of all, what is the platysma? It is a muscle that begins at the jawline, right at the mandible, and runs down in a fan shape to the superior portion of the clavicle. It is responsible for helping the mouth and lips to move. Specifically, it is the muscle that we use when we react with fear or fright – when our mouth is drawn down or to the side.

Image from Wikipedia

Many therapists miss out on getting the best outcomes because they overlook this little muscle. In fact, did you know that a lot of neck-related pain can be traced to the platysma? As therapists, 75% of people entering our clinic complain of either neck or lower back pain! If you are focusing your techniques at the back, which is quite often joint-related or soft tissue around the traps, splenius, etc, then can I ask you to try this simple technique on your next neck pain client?

I could go as far as to say unless we address the tightness in the platysma. We won't get full neck movement.

Your First Moves

First, you must assess your client’s neck range. From a relaxed, sitting position, have your client lookup or go into full neck extension. Watch and be vigilant on the lift to note any tightness of the anterior neck esp the flat band of the platysma. Have your clients return to neutral or as neutral as they can. This video will show you step by step how I teach the muscle and surrounding soft tissue via way of an active glide. This way both of you are working together. Plus, they are increasing their afferent and efferent nervous system. They will also increase their agonists and antagonists, and myofascial trains.

Active Glide

For therapists out there, when we do active movements, it means that both you and your client or patients are actually actively involved in the process.

1. Stand on the treating side, in this case, stand on the right and have the client turn their head to the right, as far as they can go comfortably. 2. Place two fingers or knuckles. If you have OA issues just above their right clavicle at the midline closest to the supraclavicular notch and sink into the tissues. The fingers will be facing out towards the AC joint on the superior line of the clavicle so that you can take up the tissue along with its attachments. 3. Have your client slowly rotate their head back towards the left as far as they can go comfortably. 4. As they move their head allow your fingers to glide along with their muscle. Work with a pace that mimics the speed of the rotation and at the tension of the hypertonic muscle/fascia. 5. I always apply any technique three times before I re-assess. NB* make sure you DO re-assess! 6. Repeat the same process on the other side.

The Results

As you’re doing this, it should feel “tight” and “stretchy” or “burny” to your clients – all signs of fascia, muscle, and/or tendon. Have your clients test their range again, by moving their heads up, down, and side to side. The results can be astronomical in pain management, posture, and range. You should be able to see the tissues are not as taut as this time around.

The beauty of this work is that you can offer it to clients as homecare.  This is an attempt to release any ongoing restrictions felt in the neck. This is another cool technique that adds value along with the other ways to assist in neck pain that we've discussed in earlier videos.

Have fun and hope this helps you and your clients in the future!  
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