Does anyone remember the children’s song: Head, shoulders, knees and toes?

Well I have to say since more time at the desk this year that song constantly pops up in my head. Although it’s now more like a 2020/21 club mix that goes something like:

Argh my head,


Neck and ohh. 


The Spiel

Modern technology has its pros. Like connecting a completely socially distant society, enabling lots of us to work from home. However, it also has led to us especially this year settling into a handful of positions that have us leaning over whichever device we are using. Is this the sole cause and definitive factor of pain/tightness/discomfort in the neck, shoulders and upper back? Most likely not. However, movement is key here and adding in some exercises to break up the sedentary positioning will help your cause.

In one of my past blogs we spoke about how depending on the angle of how far we displace our head forward it can increase the load of force on the neck and shoulders of anywhere up to 5 times the weight of the head. Which by the way the head on average weighs around 5-6 kgs. Which in turn puts stress on joints and musculature in your neck, shoulders and thoracic (area where your ribs are), as well as potentially affecting your breathing and mood.

So regardless good desk ergonomics are going to help, and this is not just the set up of how you use your computer and devices, but also movement throughout your time at the workspace or device usage. In 2018 a review in the Journal of the Society of Occupational Medicine evaluated the effectiveness of exercise therapy for work related upper limb disorders in sedentary workers. The systematic review found supporting evidence of the benefit of exercise therapy in reducing the effects of symptoms associated with upper limb issues in a sedentary position. 

However, they did suggest that further research needs to be done in what form of exercise, delivery method and dosage would be the most efficient. So in the meantime until that day comes let’s get moving with some upper body exercises for neck and shoulders.


The Facts

Sedentary jobs have seen an 83% increase since 1950

American heart association

50% of Australian workers have jobs that involve sitting at least some of the time.

Safe work Australia

Two thirds of sedentary workers suffer from tension and pain in the shoulder and neck.

*Please note these exercises and tips are general in nature if you are experiencing pain or any adverse symptoms please consult a medical or allied health professional. 

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