Get Rid of That Pain in the Neck in 3 Easy Movements

Have you experienced any of these situations?

  • Your shoulders feel like they are on fire after the first few scans of the day.
  • You have a hard time finding a comfortable sitting position.
  • Your wrist and arms feel like an iron apron has been laid across them.

If so, you are not alone. Nearly 90% of sonographers scan in pain. And of that 90%, nearly 30% will experience so much pain that they will have to find another career. This is an epidemic that must be addressed.

Earlier this year, we posted our first blog that focused on lower body stretches. We did that first because we have found that upper body manifestations can, and often do, occur as a result of lower body issues. Many times, in order to fix shoulder, neck, and back pain, we start by looking at the legs and hips. As we like to say, “train movement, not muscles.” To stay in line with that concept of not just training a muscle and one area, we want to share 3 easy movements that can help with neck, shoulder, and back pain.

  1. Overhead Reach
    1. Sitting at your desk, or standing behind your chair, take both arms and reach overhead as high as possible, with palms facing in and thumbs pointing behind you.
    2. As you extend your arms overhead, push your shoulders back (think pinching a pencil between your shoulder blades!).
    3. Now keep reaching as high as you can while exhaling as if you are blowing out a huge candle, actually 5 huge candles. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
    4. This should open up your chest, allowing you to breathe easier while at the same time relieving stress and strain from your neck and shoulders.#3
  2. Thumbs Back Reach
    1. Again, sitting at your desk, or standing behind your chair, take both arms and extend them down by your side.
    2. This time, open the palms to the outside, rotating the hands so the thumb is again pointing behind you.
    3. Again, pinch the shoulders back (think of pinching that pencil between the shoulder blades!) and sit or stand as tall as possible.#6.
    4. Now keep reaching back as far as you can while at the same time blowing out those five huge candles! Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
    5. This is another great movement to open up your chest and allow you to breathe easier while at the same time relieving stress and strain from your neck and shoulders.
  3.  Head To Shoulder Reach
    1. In a seated or standing position, simply make yourself as tall as possible. With this movement, think that someone is taking you by the hair and pulling straight up!
    2. At the same time, push the shoulders down and back – pinch that pencil!
    3. Slowly tilt your head toward the top of your shoulder. Try to place your ear on top of your shoulder.
    4.  Now, slowly and gently, rotate your head, working to bring your chin up toward the ceiling, while still trying to keep your ear on your shoulder.
    5. Make sure to do both right and left side to use this movement to get great neck relief and release tension in the muscles in the upper neck/shoulder area!

You can do these movements 2-3 times a day, doing each one, two or three times at a setting (workout!) or any time you start to feel tension build throughout the day!

What stretches do you do? How do you improve your posture? What other areas would you like to see covered? Comment below or let us know on Twitter: @AIUM_Ultrasound.

Doug Wuebben, BA, AS, RDCS, (Adult and Pediatric), FASE, is a registered echocardiographer and also a consultant, international presenter, and author of e-books in the areas of ergonomics, exercise and pain, and injury correction for sonographers.

Mark Roozen, M.Ed, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT, FNSCA, is a strength and performance coach and also the owner and president of Coach Rozy Performance Centers.

Mark and Doug are co-owners of Live Pain Free-The Right Moves consulting company. They can be contacted at

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