I don’t know about you guys, but I sit at a desk waaaaay too much and so my neck is one of the first places I collect tension in my body. In my practice I have observed that a vast majority of people also experience this tension.
This pain and tension might actually be the result of muscle weakness in certain areas – if you want to know how this happens, I’ve written about muscle weakness and tension development here.
If you find your neck is sore quite often, you might also find that these help. They help me stay out of pain in between treatments:
- Cervical extension in seated – gently moving your neck into extension and holding it there for a 3 breath-count will require the muscles of your neck to engage (and you might notice that your head is heavier than you thought). Slowly lifting back to neutral, whilst attempting to articulate through each vertebra, will gradually improve the strength in your anterior neck muscles.
- Lateral head lifts – this one can be done before bed or before getting up in the morning (so, no excuses). Lay on your side without anything under your head for support (note image has a towel – remove the towel). Slowly lift it to a neutral position and then gradually return it to the floor. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Cervical extension in supine – lay on your back, and have a smooth and “slidy” surface under the back of your head (for comfort…you’ll see why if you don’t use anything). Slowly, as with all of these, push the back of your head into the floor. Eventually you’ll build up to a point where you can also gently lift your chin and attempt to draw your head towards your butt along the floor. Reverse out gradually and repeat 5-10 times. Your shoulders and back end up floating away from the floor, once you’ve developed enough strength to get there. Note that you shouldn’t use your arms to help you.
The real key, as I’m sure you noticed with all of these is slowness. No sudden movements please, and no badges are given for progressing before you’re ready, so be gentle with your neck – it’s a beautifully crafted piece of architecture and we’re trying to nurture it with these exercises, not harm it. The strength and control is developed through the slow transitions into and out of the positions above – so no need to hold them for a long time – it’s the movement that is the most useful part to us.
Good luck, and I hope that helps!
If you’re concerned that your posture is contributing to discomfort, you might also like to read “How Did You Get Such Good Posture?“. And if you get tension headaches, you will want to see this: “Your Forearm’s Connected to The… Headaches You Get“.