Four stretches you need to try if tension in your upper back and shoulders is bothering you

A five minute routine that's ideal if you’re sat at a desk all day

Man doing eagle stretch.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Most of us spend more time than we realize holding tension in our shoulders and upper body. If you try to relax your shoulders now, you may notice that you are hunching them up towards your ears without noticing.

If you work a desk job then you might be even more prone to aches and pains in your upper body, especially if you’re hunched over your laptop or computer for long periods of time.

The best antidote to desk job niggles is some targeted stretching and mobility work. Stretching your muscles will help you relax them, especially if they’re tight, while improving your mobility through dynamic movements will protect your joints and keep you feeling limber. 

Yoga teacher Mara Cimatoribus has shared a simple routine to help you do this. All you need to do it is a resistance band for the side bends, but you can also use a towel for this.

Watch Maria Cimatoribus' upper-body stretching routine

Practice each move for around 10 to 15 seconds, breathing in and out slowly to help you move deeper into the movement. Repeat the move twice before moving on to the next.

This routine includes both passive and dynamic stretches. Passive stretches, such as the eagle arm and puppy pose, are movements where you hold a position still for some time, which is great for easing stiffness in your muscles.

Dynamic stretches, such as the thoracic rotation in this routine, are great as a warm-up as they increase blood flow to the muscles while also boosting mobility and improving joint movement.

Do this routine regularly and you could find that you're able to move around more easily at the end of the day. 

If you want to try some other routines, have a go at these yoga stretches for beginners. Or boost your mobility with this chair yoga flow

Need some cushioning for your stretching routine? Have a look through our guide to the best yoga mats

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.