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Neck pain can be the result of stress, tension, or poor ergonomics. Adding a walk to your daily routine can help lower stress and ease tension. Checking your office set-up, such as adjusting the monitor so that your eyes are the same level as the top of the screen and lowering your desk height so that your forearms are parallel to the floor can improve ergonomics.

But while all these are important changes to make and can help relieve tension, neck pain may still persist. Many people are able to find relief from neck pain by adding some simple exercises to their routine. Incorporate these stretches daily, and the weighted exercises a few times a week. Stop performing or modify any exercise that causes sharp or shooting pain.

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Get Up and Walk Around

The easiest way to ease neck pain that develops from too much sitting and computer work is by moving more often. Set the timer on your phone or download an app for your computer that reminds you to get up and walk every 30 minutes.

You don't have to leave your desk for long. Grab a drink of water, check-in with a coworker, or simply do a lap around your floor.

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Neck Stretches

Several times a day, take a break and do some gentle neck stretches. Simple movements like dropping your ear to one shoulder, then the other, a few times, and turning to look over your shoulder in one direction, then the other, can provide tremendous benefits. Hold each stretch for around 30 seconds, and make note of any move where you feel particularly tight — this could help you identify any problematic positions you're sitting in while working. Stick with the stretches, and you will quickly notice an improvement in your range of motion.

woman at desk stretching her neck
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Shoulder Stretches

Not all neck pain comes from stiffness solely in the neck. Including shoulder stretches ensures you hit the various areas of your upper body impacted by too much sitting. Start by rolling your shoulders backward 10 times. Next, pull your shoulders back, imagining that you are trying to touch your shoulder blades together. Relax back to a normal position, then repeat 10 times. Performing neck and shoulder stretches a few times a day doesn't take much time and it won't take long for you to feel the benefits if you keep it up.

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Upright Rows

Grab a couple of light dumbbells or even soup cans or waterbottles. Position your feet so they are shoulder-width apart. Stand with a weight in each hand or a kettlebell in both, hands in front of thighs, palms facing your body. Bring the weights straight toward your chin, elbows coming out to the sides. Lower to the starting position. Keep your eyes forward and shoulders relaxed away from the ears when performing this exercise.

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One-Arm Row

Lean forward with one hand on the seat of a chair, supporting your upper body. In the other hand, hold a weight. Keep the palm that is holding the weight facing your body, with the arm hanging toward the floor. Bend your arm, so your hand is about in line with your back. Hold for a second, firming the arm muscles, then lower. After performing between 8 and 12 reps on one side, switch and do the exercise with the other arm.

woman at gym doing one arm row exercise
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Shrugs

Hold a weight in each hand, hands hanging by your sides. Relax your shoulder, then shrug them up toward your ears, using the muscles at the base of the neck. This is a small movement. Focus on keeping the shoulders back and eyes up as you shrug the weights. Lift and lower under control.

man illustrates how to do shoulder shrug exercise with dumbbells
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Lateral Raises

Hold a weight in each hand, hands hanging by sides, palms facing the body. Slowly raise your arms out straight, moving the hands toward the ceiling. Keep your arms straight but not stiff. Your arms should be about at shoulder level when you complete the movement. Resist the urge to lift your shoulders toward your ears to help lift the weight. Lower the weights slowly. Exercises that bring the weight away from the body are difficult — choose light weights to begin.

woman in gym doing lateral raise exercise with dumbbells
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Rear Fly

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Hold a weight in each hand. Bend forward slightly, letting your arms hang perpendicular to the floor. Pull your shoulders back, lifting your arms to the side as you do. The elbows can bend to about 45 degrees. The shoulder blades should pinch together and your hands should be about even with your shoulders at the top of the movement. Lower slowly.

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Back Bend

No, you don't need to be a gymnast for this exercise. If you have a large stability ball, you can use that. If not, something as simple as a rolled-up blanket or towel will work. If using a stability ball, roll yourself into a backbend, placing your hands on the wall behind you for support, or the floor if you are quite flexible. Keep your shoulders down and focus on lengthening the neck.

If you don't have a stability ball, or don't feel up to the challenge, roll a blanket or towel up and position yourself on the floor, lying on your back with this support just below your shoulder blades, arms straight out from the shoulders, resting on the floor.

woman doing back extension stretch with foam roller FreshSplash / Getty Images
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Spinal Twist

Position yourself on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms straight out from the shoulders. Gently lower your knees to one side as far as you can. Hold that position for at least 30 seconds, then return to the starting point. Now lower the legs to the other side, once again holding the position. Don't expect to be able to rest your legs completely on the ground initially. Instead, focus on keeping your chest open and the opposite shoulder down. The flexibility will come as long as you continue to practice. If your lower knee does not touch the ground, place a block or pillow below it.

overhead view of a woman doing a supine spinal twist

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.