Don’t Underestimate the Power of The Towel

Do you find yourself still working from home 10 months in this pandemic? Have you been experiencing increased screen time and a lot of time sitting on the couch and at your home office desk? Do you find yourself having neck, back, and/or shoulder pain?

Here’s a simple household item that you can use to help relieve and prevent pain.

Drumroll please…… THE TOWEL!!

The towel can be used in many ways around the house: cleaning, drying off after a shower and now, with our help, postural exercises and cues when working from your home office.

While many of you are stuck at home, we at Evolve to Perform are committed to helping you avoid creating bad habits by providing you with quick cues and exercises using an item that can be found in every household.

Control of your lumbar spine and pelvis lays the foundation for good seated posture and decreased pain. A common cause of loss of posture when seated is decreased muscular endurance of your postural muscles. By using the towel roll as a cue, you are giving your body a little reminder to actively use the muscles you need to in order maintain upright posture while at your home office desk.

Secondly, rounded shoulders can be a contributor to a multitude of shoulder, neck and upper extremity pain generating pathologies. Good scapular positioning on the ribs and resulting shoulder position will allow for improved shoulder mobility, ability of the rib cage to move during the breathing cycle, and clearance of the acromion during overhead reaching.

So, without further ado, here are some useful exercises and cues using your towel:

Lumbar Roll:
1. Take a towel; roll it into a tight cylinder.
2. Place that newly formed towel roll horizontally between the small of your back and the back of your desk chair. Maintain this posture without letting the towel roll fall.

T-Spine Roll:
1. Take that same towel roll, and now place it vertically between your shoulder blades.
2. This will provide a cue for scapular retraction and decreasing the rounded shoulder posture.

T-Spine Extension with Towel Barrier
1. Place towel roll behind mid/upper back.
2. Lace hands together behind neck and lean back over towel roll.
3. If experiencing any shoulder pain with hands behind head, cross arms over chest.

Scalene Stretch
1. Wrap towel between shoulder and neck and hold both ends with opposite hand.
2. Lean ear towards shoulder opposite the towel and hold when a gentle stretch is felt.

Shoulder Internal Rotation Stretch
1. Open up that towel roll, or use a new towel….
2. Place one end of the towel in one hand behind your back and the other in your other hand with the towel looped over your shoulder
3. Use the hand in front of your body like pulley system over your shoulder and gently pull the hand behind your back up until you feel a gentle stretch

Towel Pec Stretch
1. Place both hands overhead with each hand holding one side of the towel. Bring your arms back behind the head until you feel a gentle stretch in the chest..

Shoulder External Rotation Stretch
1. Place your elbow in line with your shoulder and grab the towel in your hand with your elbow at 90 degrees.
2. Let the towel run down the backside of your forearm behind your elbow.
3. Grab the lower end of the towel with your other hand and pull until you feel a gentle stretch in the shoulder
4. For those with previous anterior dislocations or anterior shoulder instability, this position and stretch will cause anterior motion of the humeral head and may not be safe to perform.


As always, we at Evolve to Perform are committed to showing you how to take care of yourself. But if you find that it’s taking a bit longer for you to troubleshoot and resolve a nagging condition, we’re just a towel’s reach away.

Dr. Casey