After sitting in front of a computer all day, it’s easy for an office worker’s neck and shoulders to become tight and sore. Over time, this can lead to your neck and shoulders hunching forward, which prevents your core from helping to hold you up and ultimately leads to neck pain. To counteract this position, it’s important to do not just neck and shoulder stretches, but to also to stretch out your chest and pectoral muscles, which helps your body to sit more upright. The following stretches will help maintain this balance and alignment, preventing further pain. For best results, take regular breaks during the day to perform these stretches.
To loosen your pectoral muscles, stand in a door frame, with your forearms resting on either side of the frame. Slowly lean forward, keeping your arms in place, to stretch out the muscles in your chest. This stretch should not hurt — if it does, you’ve gone too far! Relax and breathe, slowly counting to 30. As the muscles begin to relax, you may be able to lean forward more and deepen the stretch.
Next, stand up straight with your feet hip distance apart. Clasp your hands behind you and draw them straight out behind you and away from your body. You should feel this across the front of your chest. To deepen the stretch, you can either raise your chin toward the ceiling (being careful not to strain your neck) or lean forward until your arms are hanging over your head and are pulled down in front of you by gravity. In this second position, keep a bend in your knees to prevent strain in your lower back.
To stretch your shoulder, cross your right arm over your chest, and hold it in place by pressing against the outside of your elbow with your left hand. You should feel this in your outer right shoulder. To deepen the stretch, resist against your left hand by pressing out with your right elbow.