4 Breaktime Shoulder Stretches for the Office

Sage Rountree suggests stretches to do anytime during your workday to release tension from your upper back and shoulders.
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Sage Rountree suggests stretches to do anytime during your workday to release tension from your upper back and shoulders.

Sage Rountree suggests stretches to do anytime during your workday to release tension from your upper back and shoulders.

Even if you’re an active athlete, you probably still have to spend hours each day at work, usually sitting with your hands on a keyboard. Taking frequent breaks over the course of the workday helps you avoid tightening up, hardening into tension that accumulates around your shoulders and neck as you sit. Pay attention to your upper body over the course of the workday, and you’ll find yourself feeling more free and loose for your after-work game or workout.

Here’s a sequence you can do in a few minutes, in your chair, on the floor, or, better yet, standing. Start by warming up with a few mindful breaths, feeling the movement of inhalation and exhalation. Next, lift your arms overhead as you breathe in, and settle them back down as you breathe out. Take them both off to the sides and in front of you as you lift and lower, traveling a slightly different path each time.

4 Shoulder Stretches You Can Do Anywhere

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1. Underarm Stretch

As you finish an inhale, interlace your fingers, invert your palms, pull your fingers against each other to stretch across the armpits. Stay here for a few slow breaths, being sure your neck and shoulders stay as relaxed as possible.

Sage Rountree shoulder Blade Stretch

2. Between-the-Shoulder-Blades Release

Next, scoop your tailbone under, round your upper back, and push your hands away from you. Breathe here, feeling the release in the space between your shoulder blades. Before you release your hands, sneak a peek at them and notice which pinky is on the outside.

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3. Front-of-the-Shoulder Stretch

Inhale and lift your arms overhead; exhaling, release them and take them together behind you, opposite pinky on the outside. Either rest your knuckles on your sacrum and move your elbows together or, if you are looser, straighten your elbows and raise your hands behind you. Lift your chest into a light backbend for a few breaths.

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4. Top-of-the-Shoulder Stretch

Finally, straighten your back again and take your interlaced fingers to one side of your waist, lowering your head in that direction, too. You’ll find a stretch for the trapezius and scalene muscles along the top of the shoulder and the neck. Slowly rotating your head side to side by lifting and lowering your nose while keeping your head angled will move the stretch. Finish with the hands and head on the other side.

Also seeA Yogi's Guide to the Shoulder Girdle + Its Actions