Have you heard of “computer shoulders?” Put simply, it’s pain and tension in the neck, shoulders, chest, and upper back that results from hunching over with your arms out in front of you. But the name is misleading because office workers and computer programmers aren’t the only people who get “computer shoulders.” Crafters, hobbyists, and gamers also find that their shoulders and upper back hurt from spending so much time hunched forward. If you have an office job AND you craft or game, you’ve got a double dose of trouble.
Today I’ve got a few office friendly stretches that you can do at your desk (or pretty much anywhere) to help relieve your tension and pain. These work best when done every hour while you’re working on a computer, crafting, or gaming.
1. Shoulder rolls – keep your arms at your side and roll the shoulders backwards, using only your shoulder muscles. Go slow and don’t forget to move as far as is comfortably possible throughout the roll.
2. Neck rolls – roll your head and neck in a slow circle clockwise, then repeat going the opposite direction. It’s important to stretch your neck, because many of your neck muscles either become shoulder muscles or else they attach there. Either way, tense neck muscles will translate into tense and sore shoulders.
3. Overhead stretch – clasp hands, turn palms away from you and raise your arms so that your palms are facing toward the ceiling. Stretch your arms up while bringing them as far back as they will go. This will stretch your upper arm and rotator cuff muscles, both of which affect shoulder function and pain.
4. Elbow room/cross – with your elbows bent, lift your arms until your elbows are pointing away from you to both sides, like you’re making sure you have elbow room. Now slowly straighten your arms until they form a cross with your body. Stretch your chest and arm muscles by moving them as far back as you can. This will help open up your chest, which closes up and gets tight when you’re hunched over. When your chest muscles are tight, your upper back can hurt in the area between your shoulder blades.
5. Side stretch – raise your right arm over your head and lean toward the left while reaching as far as you can. Repeat on the other side. Many of the muscles in your side attach to your shoulder blade or run through your shoulder and attach on your upper arm. Keeping these muscles loose will drastically reduce upper back and shoulder pain.
*Remember, less is more when it comes to stretching; you want to stop and hold the stretch a few seconds when you first begin to feel that telltale pull.
Please let me know in the comments if you found these stretches to be helpful. If you did, remember to share with everyone you know. If not, Shhhh… don’t tell anybody ;-D