Osteopathy, Sports massage

Neck, Upper Back and Shoulder Stretches

Here are some of my favourite neck, shoulder and upper back stretches. These are great to perform regularly throughout the day, particularly if your job requires you to be seated at a computer for long hours.

Looking down at your screen causes you to hunch forward – flexing your neck and upper back, and bringing your shoulders forward (protracted). Prolonged periods in this position causes your pectoral muscles in the chest to become tight, and your rhomboids and trapezius (back muscles) to become weak resulting in an exaggerated curve in the upper back (thoracic kyphosis). These imbalances cause the head to shift forwards, in front of your centre of gravity, placing extra strain on the neck, back and shoulders.
The following exercises aim to address these muscular imbalances, stretching the tight muscles to improve shoulder positioning and overall posture.

Before beginning this programme, please be aware not all exercises are suitable for everyone, particularly if you have a weakness or are prone to injury. If at any time you feel you are exercising beyond your current fitness ability or feel pain, discomfort, dizziness or nausea you should stop immediately and reconsider your use of this particular routine. The user assumes all risks of injury in the use of this programme.

1. Side Bend Stretch

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Whilst looking forwards, side-bend your neck, taking your left ear towards your left shoulder. You should feel a stretch on the right side of your neck.
To increase the stretch, drop your right shoulder and gently pull your right arm downwards with the opposite hand.
Hold for 5 seconds, repeat 3 times both sides.

2. Neck Retraction / Chin Tuck

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Whilst looking straight ahead gently pull your chin and head straight back and give yourself a double chin! You should feel a gentle stretch in the base of the head and top of the neck.
Hold for 5 seconds, repeat 3 times.

3. Backward Shoulder Rolls

Bend your elbow and rest your hands on top of your shoulders. Lift your elbows and move them in a large backwards circular motion. As the elbows move back, squeeze the shoulder blades together and feel a stretch in the front of the chest.
Repeat 6 times.

4. Thoracic Extension

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Seated with your feet flat on the floor, interlock your hands behind your neck. Bring the elbows together and round the upper back slightly. Then slowly lift your chest bone, extend your upper back and open the elbows wide to stretch the front of the chest.
Try to keep the movement specific to the upper back, avoid over-arching the lower back when extending.
Repeat 3- 5 times.

5. Thoracic Rotation

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Seated with your feet flat on the floor, interlock your hands behind your neck and open the elbows wide. Slowly rotate your upper body to one side, allowing your neck to follow the movement whilst keeping your hips still. Slowly return back to the centre and repeat on the other side.
Repeat 3- 5 times both sides.

If you have any questions do get in touch.

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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