The Five Stretches You Need for Your Sore Neck and Shoulders

With Heather Harrison, PT, DPT, OCS

Work can be a pain – literally.

After a long day at your desk, driving or sitting in meetings, you may find yourself grabbing your neck or massaging your shoulders. We often spend time in these seated positions with shoulders hunched and heads jutted out, which put undue stress on our bodies. These small, subconscious parts of our posture can result in soreness and pain.

Whether you’re at your desk or at home, try these five stretches to get your neck and shoulders feeling like new, recommended by physical therapist Heather Harrison of OrthoCarolina Huntersville.


CROSS-BODY SHOULDER STRETCH

3 x 20-30 seconds

While standing, raise one arm in front of your body and make a fist with the thumb pointing up. 

Fold your other arm over top, applying gentle pressure by pulling it across the body until you feel a stretch.

Cross-body shoulder stretch

BACKWARD SHOULDER ROLLS 

10-20 iterations

Begin in a standing position with arms at your sides, maintaining good posture throughout the exercise. 

Gently roll both shoulders back.

Backward Shoulder Rolls

SCAPULAR RETRACTIONS 
10 x 5 seconds

From an upright position, squeeze your shoulder blades together. 

Relax and repeat, maintaining your good posture.

Scapular Retractions

SIDEBENDING STRETCH

3 x 20 -30 seconds

Begin in a seated position. Using one hand, tilt your head sideways bringing your ear toward your shoulder. 

You should feel your neck stretch on the opposite side.

Side Bending Stretch

CHEST STRETCH

3x20 - 30 seconds

Standing in the center of an open doorway and keeping your elbows bent, place your hands on either side of the door at a 90-degree angle from your side. Take a small step forward until you feel a stretch and hold.

Chest Stretch

WHAT'S NEXT?

- All that sitting can also be hard on your back. Try Heather's stretches you can do right at your desk chair to eliminate the pain.

- Set yourself up for success and finish strong! Try a morning Pilates routine to kick off the day and then incorporate the five gentle stretches you need once you leave the office.

- It's all in the ergonomics. Stop the pain before it starts by learning how to best set up your workspace. Ever wondered if you should switch to a standing space? We've got all your standing desk questions answered.

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