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5 essential neck stretches to try if you sit at a desk all day.

Working from home has opened up the doors to a lot of new great things. But having to carve out a space in your home for your new office is stressful. Sitting as a desk all day when your home awaits is stressful. And hunching over is almost inevitable. Even though you try to be mindful of your posture at work, you still keep catching yourself bending over in weird ways, resting all of your weight on your shoulders and looking down constantly. At the end of your day, your neck is sore, your head is tense and you're looking for relief.

Instead of waiting until the end of your work day to try and work out those kinks in your neck, take frequent breaks to incorporate these five stretches in your office. Do these stretches at least once every hour, once on each side, holding the stretch for 20-25 seconds on each side.

  • Levator Scapulae stretch: grab the back of your chair with one hand to naturally and gently pull the shoulder down. With your other hand, gently pull your head forward at an angle until you feel a stretch from your skull down into the top of your shoulder blade. Be sure to only used your fingertips to pull on your head so you don't compress your spine.

  • Upper Trap stretch: the trapezius muscles contribute to a lot of neck tension, especially when sitting hunched over a desk all day. To stretch the trapezius, grab the bottom of your chair or sit on one hand. Using your fingertips, gently pull your head down to the opposite shoulder You'll feel the stretch down the side of your neck that's grabbing your chair.

  • Pectoralis stretch: This one will require you to stand up and find an empty corner of the room. Stand facing the corner and place your hands on either wall, your elbows slightly higher than your shoulders, keeping your elbows bent. Lean into the corner until you feel a stretch in your chest. Placing your arms higher on the wall will intensify the stretch.

  • SCM (sternocleidomastoid) stretch: Sit up straight in your chair and rotate your head, looking over one shoulder. While rotating your head, look up to the ceiling until you feel a stretch in the front of your neck. You can gently push your head in the same direction with your fingertips to intensify the stretch.

  • Scalene stretch: while you're sitting at your desk, it can be difficult to maintain good deep breaths. This can cause the accessory breathing muscles to over compensate, which causes muscles like the scalene to become tight and overworked. Stretching the scalene muscles can help relax tension in the front part of your neck. Grab the back of your chair with one hand and lean your head towards the opposite shoulder. Then tilt your head back until you feel a stretch in the front of your neck. Use your fingertips to gently intensify the stretch.

Always remember to listen to your body and don't overstretch. The stretch should feel pleasantly uncomfortable- if you're starting to feel pain or spasms, back off the stretch a little.

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