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NECK PAIN AND POSTURE – What can you do to change it?

Great for the every day office worker!

Neck pain is one the most common problems we see as physiotherapists. In a time where we are constantly hunched over a computer, Ipad, mobile phone, or other electronic devices, it’s impossible to remain in comfortable posture for long periods. Our body is simply not designed to sit at a desk all day without becoming stiff and fatigued.

People with neck pain rarely just have neck pain. They often have headaches, shoulder pain, upper back stiffness, and even referred pain, or pins and needles down the arm. More often than not, these people are trying an abundance of ways to alleviate their pain. Using heat packs, stretching, and getting up and moving around are all great ways to help neck pain subside. However, what is often neglected is strengthening exercises!

Changing and improving the way you hold yourself, and the way you move, comes down to strengthening our weak areas, and moving/unloading our tight areas. Working on the muscles that pull your shoulders back and down, along with improving flexibility in your upper back, can play a huge role in taking strain and pressure off the neck. These postural muscles stop your shoulders from hunching up around your ears, or pulling forward to make you tighter through chest and neck muscles.

Below, take a look at our favourite exercises for the every day office worker. These exercise are focused on improving the flexibility of your upper back and shoulders (to stop you from stooping!), and building strength in the muscles that pull your shoulders back and down.

  1. THORACIC TOWEL STRETCH:
  • Roll up a towel, and place it behind you
  • Lay down so the towel rests between your shoulder blades, and your head is placed on a pillow
  • Place your arms wide to each side, palms up, and rest them on the floor
  • Remain in this position for 4-5 minutes
  • You can also add in:
    • Sliding your arms up and down along the floor (like a snow angel!)
    • Rolling your head side to side to stretch the neck
    • Tipping your chin down towards your neck to activate your deep neck flexors
  • Where should I feel the stretch?
    • You may feel this stretch in your chest muscles, your upper spine between your shoulder blades, and surrounding your shoulders
  • Physio tip:
    • If you have a full length foam roller, you can use this instead for a better stretch! Make sure you sit on one end, and lay down so your head is resting on the other end.
    • If you don’t have a foam roller, get in touch with us to purchase one today! They are a fantastic tool to have at home, and can be used for a number of stretches, balance exercises and even self massage techniques.

 

  1. OPEN BOOK STRETCH
  • Lay on your side, head rested on a pillow, arms extended in front of you
  • Keep your hips and knees where they are, lift the top arm and rotate through your upper back to turn and place the arm over the opposite side
  • You should finish with your chest facing upwards towards the ceiling
  • Hold 5 seconds and return
  • Repeat 10 times each side
  • Where should I feel this stretch:
    • You should feel this stretch across your chest and shoulder muscles, and/or between your shoulder blades

 

  1. SUPERMANS:
  • Kneel on your hands and knees
  • Gently and slowly draw your shoulder blades back and down (do not over correct this position)
  • Envisage that you have a glass of water between your shoulder blades, while you lift your opposite arm and leg. The water should not spill!
  • Hold 5 seconds and transition to the other side
  • Repeat 10x
  • Where should I feel this working?
    • You should feel this in the muscles surrounding your shoulders and shoulder blades
  • Physio tip:
    • If you feel this around your neck, it means your shoulders have crept back up towards your ears, or you are hunching! Take a break, reset, and ensure they are pulled back and down
    • To progress this exercises, repeat moving your arm and leg in and out 5-10 times, before placing them down and changing sides

  1. SHOULDER ROTATERS:
  • Sit upright, with your elbows bent to 90 degrees, and hands shoulder width apart
  • Hold a stretchy theraband between hands
  • Keep your elbows close to your body, and pull the band away from you
  • Keep shoulder blades back and down
  • Slowly release
  • Repeat slowly 10x
  • Where should I feel this working?
    • You should feel this burning in your shoulders and between your shoulder blades, especially by 10 reps!
  • Physio tip:
    • If you feel the tension creeping into your neck before 10 reps, stop and rest before continuing
    • You can also replace the band with 2 light dumbbells!

  1. BENT OVER ROWS:
  • Stand on the band in the centre, and grasp each end with your hands
  • Squat slightly, and lean your body forward, keeping your back straight
  • Start with your hands besides your knees, then pull the bands vertically, as though trying to touch your elbows together behind your back
  • Slowly release
  • Repeat slowly 10x
  • Where should I feel this working?
    • You should feel this in your arms, shoulders, and shoulder blades
  • Physio tip:
    • Replace the band with some light to medium dumbbells in each hand!

Have fun giving these exercises a go – and remember, they aren’t meant to be easy! If you want to learn more about these exercises, or other helpful ones to do at home, then give us a call on 93095805. And don’t forget, you can always try out Clinical Pilates classes to help you target the areas that are right for you.

Thank you for reading!

Ash (The Physio Rooms)

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