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"Exercise Snacks" for Your Neck and Upper Back

By: Dr. Allison "Allie" Shroeder, PT, DPT


After an injury, we are often fearful of moving our spine. We have the mindset of ‘movement will cause us more harm or more pain.’ However, this is not the case at all! Research actually shows that active populations are more likely to recover more quickly when compared to sedentary populations, proving that movement is very important to our healing journey! 



It is easy to fall into the routine of sitting all day, whether it is at work or while you are in a lot of pain. I hear people all of the time say “there’s not enough time in my day” to fit in movement/exercise into our busy schedules and life! However there are plenty of exercises we can incorporate into our daily routines and schedule that don’t force us to stray far from our desks! 


Below are 7 different exercise examples to choose from to keep your upper back/neck moving throughout the work day. And don’t forget - walking is important too! Whether it is getting outside in the neighborhood or inside on the treadmill as winter is here…move, move, move! 


Keep in mind, these exercises are not meant to replace other exercise or cardio activity, but rather meant to keep you moving throughout your busy work day.


Try setting a timer 1-2 times every hour to remind yourself to move!


  1. Chin Retraction: Chin Retraction

  2. Desk and Chair Back extensions: Thoracic Extension Over Chair

  3. Seated thread the needle at desk: Thread the Needle at Desk (Elbow Bent) *can perform with arm straight as well!

  4. Seated shoulder blade squeezes: Seated Scapular Squeeze

  5. Seated Cat/Cows: Cat/Cow


Try incorporating these into your work day and see/feel the changes in how your body feels throughout the day! 


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