Stretches to Do at Your Desk – Neck and Back Pain Stretches

Watch the video or read below for a recap

Getting injured at your desk does not make for a good story.  Unfortunately, repetitive stress injuries happen over time and you don’t often see them coming.  Give these desk exercises a try; you won’t look silly if your co-workers do them with you.

Let’s start with the common pitfalls of common desk postures and the repetitive stressors involved:

  • Forward (or anterior) head positions with the chin jutted forward
  • Shoulders that are rolled forward
  • Elevated shoulders
  • Slouched position of the lower back and loss of curvature in the lower back
  • Hip flexor muscles in a shortened position for sustained periods

The first 3 points can lead to excessive stress on the upper back, neck, and shoulders.  Instead of having the weight of your head spread evenly on top of your spinal column, more of the weight shifts forwards creating increased stress and strain on the muscles of your upper back and the back of your neck.  This position leads to a jutted chin position to try to keep your eyes on your screen and can cause overextension and tension in the upper neck.

In this position, the really small suboccipital muscles at the base of the skull are being used to keep your eyes on the screen instead of our larger and stronger muscles of the neck. Often people report tension-type headaches and neck aching and fatigue when in these positions.

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Slouching of the lower back and shortened hip flexors can lead you down the path of irritating the lower back from excessive compressive loads on your lumbar discs (the spacers between the bones in our back that allow us to bend and move).  Our discs can withstand a lot of load and stress when they are in mechanically sound positions and supported properly by the spinal musculature.  

Unfortunately, when we sit we often follow the path of least effort which turns into a slump rounding our low back and letting gravity push us down.  This rounded position can put your lower back in a position where it cannot tolerate the sustained loads from sitting for long periods. Keeping our core and spine in good neutral positioning can spread the mechanical loads across a broader area resulting in lower loads in the commonly irritated areas of the lower back.

The video above goes into detail about what you can do to help alleviate these stressors. Give it a watch, and if it’s helpful make sure to share it with a coworker! 

  • Richard D.7/02/2019

    Dr. Ben Hokenson has been extremely helpful in working with me to regain the fitness that I need to enjoy the hiking, whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, and canoeing that I love. I've had significant scoliosis for awhile, and over the years my engagement with sports, quarter-acre organic garden, and physically demanding professional work started to take a toll. I appreciate Dr. Ben's holistic and creative approach to treatment, his assertiveness with adjustments when appropriate, and his coaching and suggestions for new stretching and strength-building exercises in between sessions that complements our work together. I am now able to enjoy long hikes with my wife again, am more nimble on my feet, and feeling many fewer aches and pains. Thanks for your help Dr. Ben!

  • Andrew S.6/14/2019

    I’ve had a great experience with my treatment at Functional Performance. The whole staff is very nice and professional. The type of treatments that are prescribed are not from your typical chiropractor. They are very well versed in modern approaches to full body fitness and can combine strength training and mobility work to make you move better all around. I definitely recommend using their services.

  • Anthony H.6/06/2019

    I’ve seen both Kyle and Ben over the last several years and without a doubt they are some of the most professional people I know. The office is always clean, the staff is always friendly, and their knowledge is top notch. I always enjoy coming in, knowing I’m going to be fixed with traditional chiropractic care and possibly with newer technologies. I would send anyone looking for a chiropractor here, 100%.

  • Emily S.6/14/2019

    I love Function Performance!!! Everyone there is amazing!!! I truly can't say enough good things! I have been seeing Dr. Ben and Tim for a few years. I have seen Dr. Kyle a few times as well. They have helped with past injuries, helped me through injuries due to a car accident, and help me cope with my all the side effects of repetitive motion from my job. Dr. Ben is the first chiropractor to suggest a maintenance plan to me and I'm so happy with the results that I tell everyone I can about how amazing these people are. They make you feel welcome as soon as you walk in (Melissa is THE BEST!) and they are professional, personable ROCK STARS! Thank you!!!

  • Angela G.5/09/2019

    Highly recommend Function Performance Sport Chiropractic. The entire staff is amazing. I have only seen Dr. Ben but I can say this is not just your regular Chiropractor who pops you back and neck then off you go. Dr. Ben assesses what issues you may have that you don't even know about and then helps you solve them through movement exercises both in the office and as things to do at home. He has solved issues no one else has been able to diagnose. I am gaining movement with each visit.

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