Neck and shoulder tightness from your COVID home desk?

Due to continued lockdowns and the requirement to work from home wherever possible, you may have had to adapt your home desk environment for long term usage. But are you set up in the right way? Are you suffering from nagging pains in the neck and shoulder areas? Is your home desk set-up actually causing you problems like neck and shoulder tightness?

As the weeks of working from home roll on, our sports massage therapist Sam shares her tips for making sure your home work station as is good for your body as it can be.

The basics of good ergonomics of a desk area

A graphic showing optimal desk setup.

Top tips for sitting comfortably at your home desk:

  • If your shoulders are hunching/rounding – sit up straight, squeeze your shoulders together and imagine putting your shoulder blades (scapula) down into your back pockets.
  • If your head is hanging down – prop your computer higher up so you are looking straight at it, or push the laptop further away. Then make sure you pull your head back on top of your shoulders so that your ears are in-line with your shoulders and your head is sitting on top of your spine like ‘a cherry on a toothpick’. This is a neutral spine position.
  • If your lower back is rounded – sit on your sitting bones, put your hands under your buttocks and make sure you feel the two bones (ischium) you should be sitting on. Don’t let your hips rock backwards.
  • Make sure you self-check your posture against these points every 30mins and get up from your desk every 60mins. When you get up, make sure you move. Do one activity like jumping jacks, air skipping, run up and down your stairs 2x, jog to the kitchen drink water and jog back, 10 push-ups, planks, burpees, chair squats etc.
Headshot of Sam Sports Massage Therapist at Bridge Health and Wellbeing in Christchurch Dorset
  • Stretch before you start work, at lunchtime, and after work.

Try these specific stretches to ease neck and shoulder tightness:

  • Inhale and exhale deeply in sync with your stretches and feel the stretch releasing the tension in the area.
  • Interlock your hands with your palms facing you. Stretch your arms out in front of you at shoulder height and reach as far forward as you can. Round your back and drop your head to your chest.
  • Put your hands on your hips and squeeze your elbows together as far as they will go. Arch your back and look up at the sky.
  • Cross one straight arm across your chest and increase the stretch with the other hand. Then repeat with the other arm.
  • Raise your arms to the sides and reach your hands up to the sky.
  • Sit up straight, drop your head and aim to get your chin to your chest.
  • Rotate your head and look all the way right and then all the way left.
  • With your arms by your side, look to the right, then drop your head and look into your armpit. Then look to the left, drop your head and look into your armpit.

If you are still struggling with neck and shoulder tightness, trying getting a tennis ball. Lean against the ball on the wall and treat the tight areas with massage from the ball by rolling over the tight area, leaning into tight points. Keep within your tolerable pain level and remember to stretch after any self-massage.

The team at Bridge Health & Wellbeing in Christchurch Dorset have a great deal of experience treating neck and shoulder problems, including those related to homeworking. For further advice or help with your pain contact us on 01202 473800.

Headshot of Sam Sports Massage Therapist at Bridge Health and Wellbeing in Christchurch Dorset

Samantha Meehan-Vandike has spent 15+ years in the sport and leisure industry working as a personal trainer, swimming teacher, triathlon coach and an Australian trained remedial massage therapist. She has also worked as a physiotherapy assistant in both the NHS and private health clubs. She has a wide set of skills and can treat pre and post-surgery clients, help with pain management or even stress-related conditions.

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