The majority of us spend most of our days sitting at work, typing on the computer or talking on the phone. But work is not the only place we sit – think about it! We sit in our car, eating at a cafe, watching television at home, reading to our children, or even biking home from work (if we are so ambitious)… what is with all the sitting!!
Now that we know we sit a lot, let’s talk about WHAT this is doing to our necks… and I am not even going to go into what this is doing to the rest of our bodies (we will have to address that at another time… baby steps).
I can’t speak for you, but I can speak for myself and say this – my neck can get SORE after being on my computer for more than an hour. All that looking down, undivided concentration (on good days!) and bright lights… and why do I always find myself slumping over the computer even though I KNOW I need to sit up right.
So what is happening to the muscles and joints in your neck? First of all, your head weighs roughly 10 pounds. It’s like a large bowling ball trying to balance on a stick (aka. your neck). When you sit, your neck is likely sitting a little more forward which activates the muscles at the base of your skull, along the back of your neck and your shoulders. Your muscles remain activated to keep your head from falling over onto your chest!
Think about it – if your muscles are constantly activated and are trying to hold up a 10 pound bowling ball (for an indefinite period of time), and this is happening on a daily basis, probably for years, your muscles are going to fight back at some point in the form of pain, headaches, or weakness.
I have one go-to exercise that I do myself, and teach to my patients, that seems to really help take the tension of the neck and reduce pain. It is also something you can do on a regular basis to start improving your posture, which will help reduce your neck (and even back) pain on a long term basis!
EXERCISE – BALANCE THE BOWLING BALL:
- Sit at the edge of your chair with your knees and feet slightly wider than your hips. Feet flat on the floor.
- Sitting tall, slightly tuck your chin towards your neck without nodding your head forward. Don’t be afraid of creating a double or triple chin!
- Roll your shoulders back and down and raise your chest up. Allow your spine to relax into a gentle arch. ** Tip: pretend like you are tucking your shoulder blades into the back pocket of your jeans.
- Relax your shoulders and rotate your arms/hands so your palms are facing towards the sky.
- Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and breath. Repeat every 30-60 minutes.
** This exercise takes concentration and practice! If you do not get the hang of it the first few times, that is OK. Keep trying and your body should start to figure it out.
– Doctor Mel –