14.06.2024

I’m a personal trainer — these are the three moves you NEED to know to beat any back or neck pain

Sitting at a desk or driving all day is awful for our posture and can leave us in total agony with crippling back and neck pain. Fortunately for millions of us, there are some very basic things that can be done to prevent any discomfort.

This, as we’ve been told for years, can include taking regular breaks from sitting in the same position and spending less time looking down at your phone.

But, according to London-based personal trainer Dr Darren Player, there are also a few simple exercises that can help.

Dr Player, a lecturer in musculoskeletal bioengineering based at University College London, has now shared how to do them with MailOnline.

These simple exercises can help the discomfort of neck and upper back pain. The moves involve keeping the head in a neutral position, rotating the neck and strengthening upper back muscles

These simple exercises can help the discomfort of neck and upper back pain. The moves involve keeping the head in a neutral position, rotating the neck and strengthening upper back muscles

The exercises involve keeping the head in a neutral position, rotating the neck and strengthening upper back muscles.

Beginners should perform six to eight repetitions of each with a 60 second break — repeated up to three times.

This can be increased to eight to 10 repetitions for up to five repeated sets, suggests Dr Player.

He said: ‘These exercises can be completed multiple times a day, and importantly during breaks where posture has been fixed for an extended period.

‘Perform the movements slowly and only move within a range of motion that is comfortable. If you experience any pain, stop immediately.’

Neutral posture

Simply standing in a neutral position can help ease your upper back and neck, according to Dr Player.

Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and focus on relaxing the shoulders and holding your head in a ‘neutral’ forward position.

Take regular breaths and try practice this simple move multiple times a day.

Dr Player said this will relax the muscles after posture has been fixed for an extended period.

‘You should not be sitting in a fixed position for more than one hour at a time. Factoring in rest breaks and moving around will help to reduce muscle tension,’ he said.

Neck rotations

Rotating your neck, especially when you are sat stooped staring at your phone for long periods of time, can help relive you of pain.

There are three types of neck exercises that Dr Player recommends: neck rotation, neck flexion and extension and a lateral flexion.

For the neck rotation, turn the head slowly from left to right, to the point where you can just see over your shoulder.

The neck flexion and extension require you to lower your head down so you come close to your chest and then raise your head to the position where you can see mainly the ceiling or sky above you.

For the lateral flexion, move the ear towards the shoulder on one side before slowly rotating to the other side.

Complete these neck rotations for six to eight repetitions with a 60 second break before repeating three times, says Dr Player.

But just spending less time glued to your phone can also help.

He said: ‘Simply reducing the time we are on our devices and adjusting how we look at them can have immediate impact.

‘If you are on your device, try to elevate it so you are not having to strain your neck to look too far down.’

Shoulder squeeze

You can ease upper back pain by increasing muscle strength and flexibility.

The shoulder squeeze works the central muscles of the back, opens the chest and helps improve posture, says Dr Player.

To do the move, raise your arms to in front of you and to shoulder height, then bend the elbow so the arms are at 90-degree angles.

Then, imagine you are squeezing an orange between the upper part of your shoulder blades.

Hold it in the squeezed position before returning and repeating the move.

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