≡ Menu

8 Stretches for Sonographers

It’s common for sonographers and ultrasound technicians to experience work-related pain or to develop musculoskeletal injuries. Affected areas can include the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands and the upper and lower back. Disorders can range from temporary injury to having to give up work due to the development of a permanent disability.

Consider these statistics:

  • Work related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs) affect up to 90% of diagnostic medical sonographers (SDMS).
  • About 9/10 of sonographers report they have neck, shoulder and/or back pain or issues which “prevent them from doing their job at the optimal level” (Wuebben & Roozen, 2015).

Ergonomics (such as the design and layout of ultrasound equipment and the exam room) and a healthy posture are two factors that can help prevent musculoskeletal injuries and disorders.  So can regular stretching.

Sonographers, Get Ready to Stretch

As regular stretching is a great way for sonographers to keep their bodies from sustaining serious injuries, we’ve compiled some examples of helpful stretches to perform several times of day.  This daily practice, along with these tips to avoid injury, can help promote a long and healthy career.

Ad for DMS career guide bookThey have been gleaned from two sets of experts/resources: The first is Michael Cursaro, B.MedSc, DMU, and his colleagues from the Cardiac Diagnostic Suite at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, who, in consultation with physiotherapy and occupational therapy professionals developed a daily stretching routine especially for sonographers. The second is several Aunt Minnie articles by registered echocardiographer and ergonomics author, Doug Wuebben, and also certified strength and conditioning specialist, Mark Roozen.

Learn more about the history of ergonomics for sonographers in our interview with Joan B. Baker, sonography pioneer and founder of Sound Ergonomics.

Wrist Stretch

Hold your right arm straight out with your elbow facing down. Hold your right hand’s fingers with your left hand and pull them towards you for 15 seconds. Switch sides. (This also stretches your forearms).

Neck Tilt

While standing with straight posture, lean your neck to the right as if your ear is leaning towards your shoulder (don’t make them actually touch). Hold that for 15 seconds and then switch sides.

Ankle Grab

Sit straight on the edge of a chair. Bend over with head facing down and grab your ankles. Aim for your head to reach your knees. Breathe in and out deeply (breathe in for five counts and out for five counts).  Stay in this position for about six to eight breaths. This is a great stretch to promote deep breathing and to help relieve tightness in your neck and shoulders.

Upper Back Stretch

Extend your arms in front of you and turn your wrists so you can interlock your fingers. (When your fingers are interlocked, your palms should be facing out). Stretch your shoulders and arms outward and hold for 15 seconds.

Reach for the Sky

While standing or sitting straight, extend your arms so they are reaching up towards the ceiling on either side of your head. Your palms should be facing inwards, and as you are reaching your arms up, push your shoulders back. Wuebben describes it as “think of pinching a pencil between your shoulder blades.” Take some deep inhales and exhales while reaching as high as you can. This stretch is also great for breathing, the neck and shoulders.

Shoulder Rolls

Roll your shoulders backwards ten times while you’re standing with arms to your sides.  Repeat, rolling shoulders forwards.

Squat to Reach

Stand with knees slightly bent and feet flat to the floor. Bend down to touch your toes. Then wrap your hands around your ankles and bend into a squat. While remaining in a deep squat position, raise one arm and then the other towards the ceiling. Keeping your arms straight up, stand up. This is an example of a stretch which can help improve hip mobility; and according to Wuebben and Roozen (2016), improving hip mobility helps eliminate back pain.

Kneeling Lunge

Kneel on one knee with its lower leg lying flat behind. Plant the other foot flat on the ground in front so its leg is folded at a 90 degree angle. Once you’re steady in this position, lean your hips and torso forward gently for a deeper stretch. For an even deeper stretch, raise your arms above your head. Switch sides. This stretch is also good for hip mobility.

And finally…Walk!

In addition to these stretches, it’s beneficial to try and walk around for 5 minutes every hour.  Walk down the hall and back, up and down a flight of stairs or two, or even a couple of laps around your office will loose muscles and joints that tend to stiffen while sitting or scanning.


Cursaro, Michael,  B.MedSc, DMU, Cardiac Diagnostic Suite, Royal Adelaide Hospital, et al. “Ergonomics – Taking Care of Yourself” (Sonographers’ Communication). Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography. March 2014: 36A-37A.

Rousseau, Thierry, MD, et al. “Practice Guidelines for Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in Obstetric Sonography.”Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine. 1 Jan. 2013.

Wuebben, Doug. “Making a Difference as a Sonographer: Pain in the neck.” AuntMinnie.com. 8 Sept. 2015.

Wuebben, Doug; Roozen, Mark. “Living Pain-Free: Sonographer back pain, part 1.” AuntMinnie.com. 12 Nov. 2015.

 Wuebben, Doug; Roozen, Mark. “Living Pain-Free: Sonographer back pain, part 4.” AuntMinnie.com. 21 Jan. 2016. Web. Accessed 10 Feb. 2016.



Ultrasound Physics: How To Master The Challenging Concepts

Ultrasound Physics: How To Master The Challenging Concepts

Candice Sellers, B.S., RDMS – Contributor Students attending ultrasound school consistently report that ultrasound physics is one of the most difficult courses in their program. It’s a required course and one that is important to master. Below you will find study tips and tools available to students to help them focus and hone in on How I Mastered Ultrasound Physics

Tips For Avoiding Musculoskeletal Injuries in Sonographers

Tips For Avoiding Musculoskeletal Injuries in Sonographers

By Adrienne Hardy, RDMS (Ab, Ob/Gyn) – Contributor According to the SDMS, 90% of sonographers will sustain a work related musculoskeletal disorder; 20% will have a career ended because of the injury. With numbers this high it seems like it’s an inescapable truth that you must scan in pain or get injured at some point, Most Common Injuries in Sonographers

Surviving and Thriving in Sonography School

Surviving and Thriving in Sonography School

By Adrienne Hardy, RDMS (Ab, Ob/Gyn) – Contributor As I sat in my entrance interview for sonography school the professors spattered me with questions: “Do you have enough savings? What is your home like? How do you manage your time? Do you have someone who cares about your success and will support you in hard Surviving and Thriving in Sonography School

Interview with Sonographer Carlos Reveles, RDMS

Interview with Sonographer Carlos Reveles, RDMS

We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Carlos Reveles, a high risk Ob/Gyn sonographer.  In this interview, Carlos shares with us what led to him being recently recognized as a standout sonographer by his employer, and what it’s like being a male in a traditionally female field.  Welcome Carlos! Hello my Name is Carlos Explore Carlos’s Sonography Journey

Passing the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation Exam

Tips on Passing the SPI

Adrienne Hardy, RDMS (Ab, Ob/Gyn) – Contributor I clicked submit on the SPI physics exam and ran out the the room. The test proctor handed me a piece of paper with a huge scared looking picture of myself taken before the exam, my ARDMS number and the results of my SPI examination. My hand shook as Passing the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation Exam

Stressed Sonography Student

How To Manage The Stress of Ultrasound School

Candice Sellers, B.S., RDMS – Contributor The Ultrasound School Experience Ultrasound school is a very exciting and rewarding experience. The excitement of finally reaching your goal of getting accepted into an accredited ultrasound program is certainly a tremendous milestone! However, there will be moments of frustration and stress that will occur during your journey in How I Managed Stress While in My Sonography Program