Shoulder and neck pain from sitting at your desk? Don’t stretch, strengthen.
There you are sat at your desk and here it comes, that familiar tight sensation across the top of your shoulders.
You roll your shoulders forwards and then back. Bend your head to one side and then the other. Sit up straight and slouch down low. Nothing makes a difference though.
By the end of the day it feels like you’ve got knots on the top of your shoulders that would hold a cruise liner steady in a storm.
You’ve probably tried massage, stretching and elaborate desk set ups to try and prevent it. A few hours sat at your computer however and you’re furiously moving your head around again trying to find a comfortable position.
So what’s going on?
The sensation is one of muscle tightness, so the solution feels like it would be stretching and massage.
What if the underlying issue was something else however? Muscle weakness.
You’ll notice that everything feels much better in the morning. After a good nights sleep you can probably sit at your desk for a while before everything starts to tighten up.
That points to muscle fatigue being a key element.
Your head weighs about 5kg. Not just yours, everybody’s. Imagine holding a 5kg dumbbell for a few hours. It would start to cause issues wouldn’t it?
This is precisely what the muscles of your neck and shoulders are having to do throughout the day. That’s why they start complaining by the end of it.
Now imagine your thigh muscles started to burn and complain whenever you walked up stairs. What would you do? Stretch them? Maybe that would provide some temporary relief, but to improve the situation, you’d probably guess that some strength training would help.
The muscles of your neck and shoulders are no different.
Right now there’s a gap between what you’re asking them to do and what they’re capable of. This is why they feel like they’ve run a marathon by the end of the day.
If you close that gap with some specific strength training work, they’ll be able to perform their function better and you’ll hear less in the way of complaints.
It might sound strange, but if you want to sit at your desk all day without discomfort, you may have to train to achieve that.
This is what your shoulders have been trying to tell you. Listen to them.