Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography
Upper body pain is a common complaint from those who work in an office, and it’s not a surprise. People who sit at a desk are especially prone to back, neck and shoulder pain due to the heightened opportunity to be internally rotated—meaning our shoulders round forward, the chest falls and we stay there for almost the entire eight-hour work day.
Taking a few minutes every hour or so to stretch can do wonders for your posture and overall comfortability as you sit at your desk.
We spoke with local chiropractor Dr. Beth Nokken to ask which stretches she recommends doing to help relieve the muscles that become overused or tight, causing the pain.
About Dr. Beth Nokken
Nokken graduated from Northwestern College of Chiropractic, now known as Northwestern Health Sciences University, in 1994. She is originally from and currently resides in Moorhead.
“I started seeing a chiropractor when I was 10 years old for injuries sustained in gymnastics. I went with my mom, and she asked if he ever worked on kids. And the next thing I knew, I was on the table getting adjusted. When I left, I remember thinking, ‘That was really cool.’ It was the first time I went to the doctor and felt better without having to get a shot or take medicine. From that point on, my mom said I started saying I wanted to be a chiropractor.” – Nokken
Here are five stretches to do in the office, with explanations from Nokken on how and why.
1. Lateral neck bend
How: With your right hand, grab your left wrist behind your back. Pull wrist toward the right, across your low back. Tilt your head to the right. Gently rotate your head so you are looking down. Repeat on opposite side.
Why: “We tend to bring our shoulders up to our ears, causing tension in our neck and shoulders. This stretches the muscles on the side of the neck and down into the shoulder, relieving the tension.”
2. Anterior elongation
How: Take the palms of your hands and push down toward the floor and back while tipping your chin gently up.
Why: “This lengthens the muscles in the front of your neck, chest and arms.”
3. Doorframe stretch
How: Place your hands on each side of a door frame, or mimic the doorframe as the example shows. Lunge through. Repeat with the other leg.
Why: “Sitting all day, we tend to round our shoulders forward and those muscles become contracted during the day. This stretch counteracts that and relieves tension in your chest and upper arms.”
4. Chin tuck
How: Push the top of your head to the ceiling and tuck your chin straight back.
Why: “This stretches the small muscles at the base of your skull, which can be common culprits of headaches.”
5. Shoulder blade stretch
How: Put your hands together and push straight out in front of you. As you push forward, round your back out.
Why: “This stretches the shoulder blades, giving you another way to loosen them up and give them a break.”
Nokken Chiropractic and Massage
1220 2nd Ave. S Moorhead