The number of people living with back pain and sciatica has reached epidemic levels. When these ever-increasing numbers are being discussed the focus is usually on lower back pain and sciatica, since these are the most common areas that people are suffering pain. However, the cases of neck and upper back pain are greatly increasing as well!
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Over a short amount of time, there has been a sharp increase in the number of jobs where workers have to spend most of their days sitting and using a computer. These types of jobs often require people to be looking down at their desks or forward at their computers, while also causing bad posture from sitting awkwardly. So it is no surprise that these jobs are leading to more and more cases of upper back, neck, and shoulder problems!
Fortunately, for those who are experiencing pain in these areas, there are simple stretches that can be done to help relieve the pain and prevent more pain from occurring. The following 6 stretches are designed to specifically target the problem muscles and joints in the upper back, shoulder, and neck areas to make them relax and lessen soreness.
REMINDER: Before begin any stretching, please remember to not overdo it! Only stretch as much as feels comfortable. Pushing the body too hard can lead to even more problems and more pain!
Stretch #1: Upper Back Supine Stretch
Lie down on the floor with your arms relaxed at your sides. Raise your arms two to three inches off the ground and hold them there, and then tilt your head back so that your shoulders lift off the floor. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds, then relax for 30 seconds before repeating.
Stretch #2: Trapezius Squeeze
This exercise is simple and can be performed from a sitting or standing position. You just squeeze your scapulas (your shoulder blades) together and hold that for at least 5 seconds. Relax for 5 seconds and repeat.
Stretch #3: Thoracic Arch
Sit in a comfortable but firm chair. Clasp your hands behind your head, and then arch your neck and back until you are looking straight up. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds before relaxing and repeating.
Stretch #4: Deltoid and Trapezius Stretch
This can be performed while sitting or standing. Begin by stretching both arms our in front of you. Now cross your arms so that your right forearm is underneath your left elbow, and then gently pull your left elbow to the right with your right forearm. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds before releasing and repeating on the other side.
Stretch #5: Trapezius Extension
Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Try to keep your legs as close together as possible. Then bend at the waist and touch your toes (or as close as you can). Hold this position for at least 15 seconds, then straighten up for 15 seconds and repeat.
Stretch #6: Standing Column Stretch
This stretch requires a column, pillar, or some other round object that you can wrap your arms around. Stand facing the column with your toes touching its base. Wrap your arms around the column and lock your fingers together on the other side. With your fingers locked, arch your upper back out and away from the column and hold the stretch for 5 seconds before relaxing. You can adjust your position so that you are stretching the areas of your back that need it.
Stronger muscles are better able to support the spine, and regular exercise of the back can strengthen the muscles and help eliminate pain.
At the Illinois Back Institute we strive to educate everyone as much as possible about their back pain and sciatica, because it is proven that the more people know about their problem the more likely they are to eliminate it!
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