How to Prevent Neck and Shoulder Pain whilst Commuting

Last in our commuter’s pain series, we take a look at postural habits which may be contributing to shoulder and neck pain. Are you suffering with either neck or shoulder pain, that possibly get aggravated whilst being on the train, tube, bus or in the car?

Our shoulders don’t only suffer stress from carrying heavy bags and from less than ideal posture – they also are an area where we accumulate lots of stress related tension; the stress of our busy lives and – especially if you live in London – the mad commutes that are stressful both mentally and physically!

Improving your sitting and carrying positions as well as moving whenever you can may seem to be small details and most often people don’t realise the importance of them! But in actual fact these little details in our day can have a profound effect on wellbeing, pain reduction, injury reduction and increase in focus.

Some of the common issues commuters (or long sitters) face are:

  • Holding the shoulders in a shrug: whether you are reaching for an overhead handle, or you are driving your car, when you keep your shoulder shrugged, you create unnecessary tension some shoulder muscles which are not supposed to be constantly working. This can lead to compromised mechanics at your shoulder joint which will translate in a higher risk of injury during training as well as that ‘knot’ feeling at the base of your neck.
  • Carrying heavy bags on one side: this will often lead to shrugging your shoulder and tilting/twisting to one side, causing horrible compensatory patterns and thus pain!
  • Leaning on one arm: when you lean on one elbow you switch off some key stabilisers in your shoulders, again compromising your movement mechanics.
  • The famous texting neck: are you guilty?? Sitting bent forward with elbows on your knees and chin poking forward or holding your phone at belly height will force you to pull your chin out, excessively bend your neck and will thus put the muscles which connect your head/neck to your upper back in a prolonged stretched position – not good!
  • Grinding your teeth: peak time commute often means peak stress levels! A common issue is to clench your jaw and grind your teeth. Your TMJ, the jaw joint, has important links to your neck and shoulder mechanics; it has small but powerful muscles which can be a cause of pain.

Try to go through this simple checklist next time you are commuting:

  • Hold a rail bending at your elbow; keep your shoulder relaxed and elbow close to your body
  • Place your bag on the floor or switch hand every stop. Using a backpack on both shoulders can help if you need to always carry heavy items with you.
  • Take a deep breath in and let your jaw relax.
  • Sit straight and hold your phone at chin height, or don’t hold you phone at all and have a cellular detox 🙂

Struggling with shoulders or neck pain? Get your assessment booked today to learn how to look after your body!

FIND US: Function360, 118a London Wall, EC2Y 5JA


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118A London Wall, EC2Y 5JA

We are based on London Wall, City of London, moments away from a few of the main underground stations. Our closest tube stations are: Moorgate, Liverpool Street and Bank stations.


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