Updated: Feb 26
Yoga and stretching are great for sonographers! They help to improve our range of motion and flexibility, which is key for performing scans efficiently. Plus, they can help to relieve some of the tension that can build up in our shoulders and necks from working at the ultrasound machine all day. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSD) are a common cause of pain among sonographers, with research suggesting that between 80–90.5% of sonographers are scanning in pain. Here are a few simple yoga poses and stretches that sonographers can do to help loosen up the muscles and keep the body moving.
1. Cat - Cow Pose
These two poses are often done together in a flowing sequence. They help to warm up the spine and prepare the body for more intense backbends. Start on all fours, with the wrists under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. As you inhale, arch the back and look up toward the ceiling (cow pose). Then, as you exhale, round the back and tuck the chin to the chest (cat pose). Repeat this sequence a few times, moving slowly and carefully.
2. Thread Needle Pose
This is a great stretch for the shoulders and upper back. Start by sitting up tall, with the legs crossed in front of you. Reach the right arm up overhead, and then bend it down behind the back, threading the hand through the space between the shoulder blades. Reach the left arm up and over the head, and then take hold of the right arm. Gently pull the right arm toward the left, feeling a stretch in the right shoulder and upper back. Hold for a few deep breaths, and then switch sides.
3. Shoulder Rolls
Rolling the shoulders is a simple but effective way to loosen up the muscles around the shoulder blades. Start by sitting up tall or standing with the feet hip-width apart. Slowly roll the shoulders back and down, and then up and forward. Repeat a few times in each direction.
4. Shoulder Shrugs
Shrugging the shoulders is another easy way to release tension in the shoulders. Start by sitting up tall or standing with the feet hip-width apart. Slowly raise the shoulders up toward the ears, and then release them down. Repeat a few times.
5. Neck Rolls
Neck rolls are a great way to release tension in the neck and shoulders. Start by sitting up tall or standing with the feet hip-width apart. Slowly roll the head to the right, and then back to the center. Repeat on the left side. Then, roll the head forward and then back to the center. Repeat a few times in each direction.
6. Forearm Stretch
One simple way to release tension in the forearms is to stretch them. Start by sitting up tall or standing with the feet hip-width apart. Hold the right arm out in front of you, with the palm facing up. Use the left hand to gently pull the fingers back toward the forearm, feeling a stretch in the muscles. Hold for a few deep breaths, and then switch sides.
7. Chest Stretch
This stretch helps to release tension in the chest, shoulders, and upper back. Start by standing with the feet hip-width apart. Clasp the hands behind the back and lift the arms up, straightening the elbows if possible. Gently pull the hands toward the upper back, feeling a stretch in the chest and shoulders. Hold for a few deep breaths.
8. Side Back Stretch
This stretch targets the muscles in the sides of the back. Start by standing with the feet hip-width apart. Reach the right arm up overhead and then bend it down behind the head, taking hold of the left elbow with the right hand. Gently pull the left elbow toward the right, feeling a stretch along the left side of the back. Hold for a few deep breaths, and then switch sides.
Harrison G, Harris A. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders in ultrasound: Can you reduce risk? Ultrasound. 2015 Nov;23(4):224-30. doi: 10.1177/1742271X15593575. Epub 2015 Jun 30. PMID: 27433262; PMCID: PMC4760593.