Do you suffer from neck or upper back ache, stiffness or twinges? Then, like many others, you may be straining your neck.
Your head weighs a hefty 10-12lbs, which your neck is designed to take. However, if you start to bring your head forward, to look closer at a computer or play with your phone for example, your neck will be holding up to six times the original weight of your head1.
Constantly repeating this action and/or holding this position for prolonged periods of time causes the muscles in the back of your neck to strain. Not only a common cause of neck pain, but it can also cause headaches and foggy head. Left unrecognized the long-term issues could cause a domino effect, impacting on your upper back, lower back and hips. Arthritis could even start to form in the neck over time.
So how do you fix this? Here are 6 tips to get you started:
- Adjust your seated position. Be mindful of your posture and make sure you head is always seated directly on top of your shoulders.
- Carry out neck stretches and exercises. Practice these techniques regularly throughout the day to start to relieve the daily aches and pains.
- Stretch your chest and strengthen your mid back. Often poor upper back posture is connected to forward head posture and therefore stretching out your chest and strengthening your mid back may help to correct this.
- Go see a sports massage therapist. Massage around the neck, upper back and shoulders will help to lengthen the muscles, release knots and break down scar tissue.
- Attend a Yoga/Tai Chi/Pilates class regularly. There may be areas of tightness elsewhere in your body. Physical techniques such as yoga postures will help to stretch out your whole body and over time help correct your posture.
- Put the phone down and get outside! Keep texting, social networking and online gaming short and sweet, holding your arm up instead of bringing your head forward. Why not meet up with friends face to face instead or get outside and enjoy nature.
Always consult a health professional before deciding whether any treatment is suitable for you.
- Hansraj, K. (2014) Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head. Surgical Technology International 2014, 25: 277-9.