Neck pain is a very common complaint we all seem to have from time to time. Often our posture throughout the day is to blame. The common poor posture seen, especially in the workplace, consists of forward rounded shoulders, forward head, and increased thoracic kyphosis. This posture causes shortening of the muscles in the front of our chest and neck. The continued shortening of these muscles can further decrease the correct positioning of our spine decreasing its’ overall pain free motion. Luckily there are some easy stretches and postural strengthening exercises that along with improving our posture can help combat this.
- Upper Trapezius Stretch: sitting upright with proper posture and head facing forward pick a side to start with and simply bend your neck bringing your ear towards your shoulder. You can also add over-pressure with the opposite hand of the side you are stretching. Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds and complete 2-3 repetitions, 3 times a day.
- Pec Stretch: find an empty doorway to use. Standing upright place both forearms onto the doorframe with palms against the frame as well making a W with your arms and body. You should feel this stretching across the front of your chest and the front of your shoulders. Again, hold this stretch for about 30 seconds completing 2-3 repetitions, 3 times a day.
- Scalene Stretch: sitting upright with proper posture and head facing forward pick a side to stretch first. Begin by looking away from the side you have chosen to stretch, place your hands by your collar bone on the side you are stretching and tilt your head in an upward motion. This stretch should be felt in the front of your neck down to your collar bone. Again, hold this stretch for about 30 seconds completing 2-3 repetitions, 3 times a day.
- Scapular Squeezes: this exercise can be performed in a seated or standing position. Sitting or standing upright pull your shoulders down and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold this for about 10 seconds and repeat 10 repetitions, 3 times a day. This exercise can be progressed to theraband rows which just consists of adding the band for resistance. The band can be knotted and placed in a closed door frame and follow all the original steps holding onto the band while completing.
- Chin Tucks: this exercise can be performed lying on your back and progressed to a seated position. Begin in a hook-lying position (on your back with knees comfortably bent and feet flat on the bed or floor) and arms relaxed. Press your head straight into the floor or bed tucking your chin but keeping your face towards the ceiling. Hold this for about 10 seconds and complete 10 repetitions, 3 times a day.