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4 Neck Stretches for Desk-Bound Employees to Relieve Neck Tension

30 June 2023

For desk-bound employees, it may be a pain in the neck for more than one reason including the actual pain in the neck and shoulders.

Thanks to prolonged sitting at improperly designed workstations and a sedentary lifestyle, neck pain is becoming increasingly common for desk-bound employees.

Research shows that if you spend prolonged hours seated in an uncomfortably designed workstation that doesn't support your posture, you have a much higher risk of developing certain health conditions including cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, and deep-vein thrombosis along with musculoskeletal disorders.

Moreover, studies also suggest that 47% of the global population suffers from headaches and the incidence is much higher among employees with a desk job. Medically known as cervicogenic headaches, this condition affects desk-bound employees even more as they spend long hours working at their desks or on the screen without adequate support.

In this post, we look at some of the common causes of neck pain in desk-bound workplaces and X stretches for desk-bound employees that can help relieve neck tension. Moreover, we also look at a few other measures that you should take while working at your desk to relieve neck tension.

Common Causes of Neck Pain Among Desk-Bound Employees

Neck pain is one of the most common work-related injuries among desk-bound employees. Over 87% of employees who have screen-related desk-bound jobs report pain and discomfort in the neck and shoulders with pain ranging from acute to chronic.

According to studies, the most common causes of neck pain include awkward posture while sitting. Desk-bound employees have to spend long hours in front of the screen without adequate support which can contribute to posture-related neck pain. However, not all neck pain among desk-bound employees is related to awkward posture. Some of the other causes of neck pain among desk-bound employees can include

Repetitive head movement (in case of jobs that require employees to switch screens or alternate viewing between documents on the desk and the screen),

Herniated disc in the upper back,

Untreated injury of neck or shoulder,

Stress and tension can strain neck and shoulder muscles, and

Lack of muscle tone due to lack of physical activity and exercise.

Are you experiencing tightness and pain in your upper back and shoulders? Do you experience frequent headaches accompanied by neck and shoulder strain and pain? Then its likely due to posture-related concerns resulting from leaning towards digital devices or sitting for too long.

Fortunately, there are simple stretches that you can try to relieve neck tension regardless of whether you are working at your home or office. Moreover, if you don't experience neck tension yet, the best part about these stretches is they can help you prevent neck strain in the first place as these stretches help strengthen your neck and shoulder muscles.

Let's look at four neck stretches for desk-bound employees that can help relieve and prevent neck tension.

4 Neck Stretches for Desk-Bound Employees to Relieve and Prevent Neck Tension

#1. Triceps Stretches

Triceps stretches make a great tool for improving muscle strength and flexibility and help increase the range of motion. The stretch also helps loosen up connective tissues, prevent muscle tightness, and boost circulation.

The best part about this stretch is that you don't have to get up from your desk. Instead, you can try it while sitting.

Here's how to go about this stretch.

Raise your right arm and bend it such that the hand reaches the opposite side.

Now use your left hand to pull the elbow towards your head.

Hold the position for up to 30 seconds and repeat for the other side.

While the stretch primarily focuses on the triceps, it can improve muscle flexibility and strengthen your muscles which aid in easing stiffness in the neck and shoulder.

#2. Upper Body and Arm Stretch

Another arm stretch that can help desk-bound employees relieve neck tension is the upper body and arm stretch. The stretch involves the muscles of your hands, arms, neck, and shoulder and is a great workout to strengthen these muscles and improve their flexibility.

When your arm, shoulder, and neck muscles are stronger, they will be better able to support your head without pain and discomfort.

Here's how to go about this desk stretch for stronger neck and shoulder muscles.

Join your hands together clasping them such that the hands are above the head with palms facing outward,

Now push your arms up as far as you can towards the ceiling, stretching upward,

Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds and repeat the stretch at least 10 times several times during the day.

#3. Shoulder Shrugs

A simple desk stretch that you can try out while sitting at your desk to relieve neck tension is shoulder shrugs. The easy stretch improves posture, stabilizes neck muscles, and increases neck and shoulder muscle strength. Shoulder shrugs are also quite beneficial in reducing the strain on shoulder and neck muscles.

Here's how to try out shoulder shrugs at your desk.

Raise both your shoulders together up towards your ears,

Hold your shoulders in an elevated position for a few seconds,

Release your shoulders and repeat the stretch at least 10 times several times throughout the workday.

#4. Neck Roll

Neck roll makes one of the simplest and most dynamic stretching exercises that stretches and relaxes the neck muscles. The stretch helps alleviate discomfort or stiffness associated with neck strain by relaxing your neck muscles and strengthening them simultaneously. The neck stretch not only relieves neck pain and discomfort but also serves as one of the best ways to prevent neck pain and injuries.

Here's how to go about this stretch.

Keep your head straight and look forward,

Now tilt your head to one side and start rolling it to the back until you get into the same position while completing the entire circle,

Now roll in the opposite direction,

Repeat the roll on both sides multiple times throughout the day for stronger and more relaxed neck and shoulder muscles.

Other Measures You Should Take to Support Your Neck

You are already aware that one weak neck and shoulder muscles are a leading cause of neck and shoulder pain among desk-bound employees but did you know that poor posture and inadequate support during desk jobs are other significant causes of neck and shoulder tension?

If you have a desk job that requires you to work at your screen for prolonged hours, here's what you need to do to support your neck along with the neck stretches that we have mentioned above.

Maintain Appropriate Posture

Neck stretches make a great way to strengthen your neck muscles so your neck and shoulder are better able to handle the weight of your head without discomfort or pain however, it's equally important to maintain appropriate posture while you're working at your desk.

Many desk-bound employees tend to hunch over their screen which provides a better viewing angle and appears as a comfortable sitting posture. However, in the long run, it doesn't make a comfortable working position. Instead, it strains your neck and shoulder muscles which results in discomfort and pain.

Adjust Your Screen

Apart from maintaining appropriate posture, you also need to adjust the position of your screen such that your screen is right in front of you straight in line with your vision.

Invest in Ergonomic Office Equipment and Accessories

Moreover, you should invest in ergonomic office equipment including an ergonomic office chair that provides support to your neck and shoulders and includes a neck rest. One of the ergonomic office chairs with an adjustable neck rest that we can recommend is Ergonomic Chair Pro (OC14) which makes a great ergonomic office solution for conventional and remote workplaces. The chair features an adjustable headrest that is designed to meet the needs of individuals with varying heights and better support their neck and shoulders as they work on their desks and screen.

You can also consider investing in a document holder if your job requires you to get involved in repetitive head movements.

Incorporate Microbreaks Throughout the Day

Investing in appropriate ergonomic equipment and accessories makes a great solution however, that doesn't eliminate the need for incorporating breaks into your day. Make sure you get up from your desk multiple times a day to take a quick walk or stretch around to keep your neck and other parts of the body healthy.

Key Takeaways

Try out these four neck stretches to strengthen your neck and shoulder muscles so you don't have to deal with neck tension. Moreover, ensure that you take care of some of the other measures mentioned in this post to keep your neck and shoulders strong and healthy.

Find out more about ergonomic office solutions here.