Have you ever stared at the whiteboard at the front of your class, but couldn’t focus because of the dull ache in your back? Or fidgeted and fussed at your office desk because of the stiffness in your neck and shoulders?

During our periods, our bodies experience so many aches and pains–from stiff necks and shoulders, headaches, and more. Men might say we’re complaining, but we all know that menstrual cramps and other pain are the real deal! According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_249.pdf), women are more likely to experience pain in the form of migraines, neck pain, and lower back pain. Sound familiar, ladies?

Fortunately, even when we’re stuck at our desks for hours on end, we have a few options. We’re not talking full on yoga poses, but subtle stretches and motions we can practice to relieve some of the pressure and aches in our bodies. The following tips move from the top of our bodies to the bottom. Just remember, be gentle with your body. If anything starts to hurt, stop. If pain is chronic or long term, please see a physician!

Neck and Shoulders
• Shrug your shoulders, lifting them up towards your ears. Hold them there and then release. Repeat.
• Move your head slowly from side to side as if shaking your head. Then, tilt your head so your ear touches your shoulder, then do this to the other side. Finally, look up and down as if nodding your head.

Back and Shoulders
• With your hands in front of you, interlock your fingers. Then bring your hands and arms up above your head. With palms facing up, stretch towards the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds, then bring your arms back down.
• Reaching behind you, interlock your fingers. Then push your hands away from your body to stretch the area between your shoulder blades.
• Pull one arm across your chest with your other hand, which should be grabbing at the elbow. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat with the other arm.

• Your teacher or professor will probably not approve of this one if you’re in the middle of an exam, but try it any other time. Inhale and turn your torso to the right and grab the back of your chair with your right hand as you exhale. Hold for a few seconds. Then turn your torso the other way, to the left, and grab the chair with your left hand as you exhale. Hold for a few seconds.

Other Options
• If your office allows it, see if you can replace your office chair with an exercise ball, which is great for lower back pain and balance.
• Keeping active is also important. If you have time to take walking breaks, do it!