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Background: I work as a programmer, so I probably have a few posture related issues. I try to sit back as much as possible and relax shoulders and head, which has helped in getting rid of most of my back pains, but when I get home I don't pay much attention to it, for example I lying on one side a lot. I have been working out more than my usual this year, which seems to have brought out the issue.

Coming to my problem, the muscles in my neck feel tense most of the time, the range of motion is slightly reduced compared to 1 year ago because of said tension, whether it's lifting my head up or turning it to one side (one side more than the other). I feel most of the tension in the sternocleidomastoid, and occasionally the soreness hits the top of the trapezius as well. Push-ups or small weight lifting are usually enough to make me feel it even more.

Is there anything I should exlude from my workout at least for a brief time period? What can I do to prevent this from happening and relax these muscles?

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  • This is personal medical advice, go ask your doctor. Also, consider that the best exercise for office workers is deadlift because it strengthens the lower back.
    – John
    Sep 26, 2016 at 14:49
  • @JJosaur, that is a good point. I have asked my generic doctor (whose majority of patients are old folks) and she hasn't been extremely helpful. I am considering seeing a sports medicine specialist, but that takes a while and is not the cheapest on my budget.
    – Michele C
    Sep 26, 2016 at 16:38
  • The main question is whether altering her exercise routine can help with this kind of muscle soreness. That doesn't seem especially medical, and I'm not seeing health issues being addressed here. Physical soreness, and activity. Sep 28, 2016 at 19:49

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I wouldn't exclude exercises, if the muscles get weaker or less use, then they will probably be less able to handle the daily stress of working at a computer station and typing.

I'm a computer programmer, and I'm a frequent swimmer, so that adds up to the same kind of neck and trapezius soreness/knots that you talk about. I try to combat it in two ways that seem to work for me.

Whenever I feel things starting to tense up some, I try to take a minute or two and do stretching. Not on any kind of schedule, but "as needed," though maybe making sure you do some before bed on a regular basis, regardless, might be helpful.

Stiff neck from sitting all day stretches

Another thing that works, for me, is self-massage, particularly targeting trigger/release points where you can feel those muscles knotting up. Quite often these points are where several bands of muscles come together. When it gets really bad, I sometimes ask my teenaged daughter to get behind me on the couch and lean in and attack the trapezius knots with her elbow.

When doing any kind of release or pressure point work, what happens is the muscles initially will contract or spasm, but if you keep the pressure on, you will feel the muscles begin to relax in response to the pressure ("release"). When my daughter gives me the requested elbow treatment, I usually notice it especially when I wake up the next day.

The points that most often need attention, for me are the top of the trapezius or, more often, just to the spine-side near the top of the scapula, which I can feel running up the back of my neck and to the base of the skull, and, when it is bad enough to spasm, can make if feel like someone is squeezing either my eyeball or my inner ear.

Self-Massage tips for myofascial release points

When I can't get a helper for something like that, if the back of the chair is high enough, or the couch is firm enough, I place a tennis ball between my back and the chair or couch (or you can do this lying on the floor), make sure the ball is directly on the sore muscle, and slightly move/rotate my shoulders and back so the ball is massaging that area. Tennis ball is great for this. I'd image an racquetball would be pretty good, too.

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