Stretch to Release Stress in the Office Quickly (Part 1 of 3)


If you are like most people who work for a living, you will, at some time, find yourself feeling “uptight”, and I find that this uptightness frequently manifests itself in tension in the neck, shoulders, upper back, and even the eyes and face!  Here are a few quick and easy-to-do-in-the-office (or anywhere else) stretches to help ease shoulder and upper back tension. Remember – as with all stretches – there should be no pain. Stretch only the point that you feel a ‘nice stretch’ and no strain.

So here we go – ready?

1. Standing Shoulder Stretch – (CAUTION – IF YOU HAVE A TORN ROTATOR CUFF OR A SHOULDER THAT TENDS TO DISLOCATE, DO NOT DO THIS STRETCH).  Stand straight and remain so throughout this stretch (pay particular attention that you do not allow your lower back to sway in when you reach up.  Hold a strap (can be a belt, towel, karate belt, strap, etc. – preferably not one that stretches) in the palm of your right hand with your arm extended and palm up.  Using your thumb to hold the strap in place, raise your arm up until you can raise it no further without either arching your back or turning your elbow. Allow your elbow to bend and drop straight back (like patting yourself on the back).  Place your left hand in the small of your back with your wrist flat and palm facing out away from your body. Grasp the strap. Gradually work your hands towards each other until a nice is stretch is felt in the shoulders. After several breaths, release slowly and repeat on the other side.  Before repeating for the second time, move your shoulders around, shrug them a couple of times and get rid of any sensation of heaviness, then repeat.


2. Arm and shoulder stretch (front) – Stand straight and remain so throughout (can also be done seated if you have enough room in front of you and can sit up straight).  Clasp your hands in front of you with your arms outstretched. “Push” your hands away from you as you slowly raise your arms as high as possible without arching your lower back or feeling pain.  Continue pushing your hands away from you as you lower your arms. Look at your hands and determine which thumb is on top, then reclasp your hands with the other thumb on top and repeat. (Feels weird, doesn’t it??)


3. Arm and should stretch (back) – (CAUTION – IF YOU HAVE A TORN ROTATOR CUFF OR A SHOULDER THAT TENDS TO DISLOCATE, DO NOT DO THIS STRETCH).  Stand straight and remain so throughout (this can only be done seated if you are on a stool, ball, etc., that has no back).  Clasp your hands behind you (if your hands to not reach without rounding your shoulders forward use a belt or strap and hold hour hands as close as you comfortably can) and attempt to straighten your arms without allowing your palms to separate.  Take several breaths, then release. Reclasp your hands (like in #2 above) and repeat. Be sure to keep your shoulders back (in other words, don’t let your upper arms rotate forward – shoulders should move back with increased stretch, not forward.


These stretches may be done as often as you feel the need to get rid of upper body stress!  Keep it fun and easy! (PS – these are great to do in the back of an airplane when you’ve been flying for a while!)

Alison Sue Adams

Alison Sue Adams

Instructor, Coach, and Author

Sue is a Master Life Coach specializing in working with groups to release past trauma and move them forward in life.

Sue has nearly 30 years of experience as a bodyworker working with mind-body connections, including visualization and dialogue along with hands-on bodywork, to release emotional trauma in the body and mind. She has worked with infants, children, adults and families in individual and group settings. 

Sue is known locally as, “the therapist’s therapist.” Her first book is titled, “Muscle Energy Technique Made Easy for Healthcare Professionals”.