Sitting at a desk and working at a computer for hours on end is common in many occupations, and this takes its toll on the upper back. Poor seating, incorrect screen height or use of a laptop encourage the head to be held forward from the shoulders and causes strain on the neck and upper back musculature. Despite legislation, workers seldom take 10 minutes in every hour away from their screen. Occasional stretches at the desk can help keep the neck and back in a better working order.
One exercise for mobilising the upper back commonly prescribed by Osteopaths is the figure 8 exercise. Clasp the hands around the back of the neck and keeping the chin level and the elbows together, slowly make a figure of eight pattern with the elbows. You should feel movement in area of the spine between the shoulder blades. Take care - too high and the movement will come from the neck, too low and it will come from the lower spine. If you are having difficulty isolating this area, practice with your back against a wall using it to prevent movement from lower down the spine. This exercise will help mobilise the vertebrae, stretch and relax tight overworked muscles, and help provide fluid drainage to the area. As with any exercise do not continue if this causes pain or discomfort. If in doubt seek qualified advice from a registered Osteopath.
Hitchin Osteopathic Clinic, Old Park Dental Surgery, 72 Old Park Road, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 2JT 01462 432609