For a lot of us, yoga class isn’t calm and relaxing. We aren’t soothed by the prospects of dangling upside down or stretching our limbs into geometric shapes. Instead of breathing deeply, our panicked breath comes fast and quick as we feel like a giraffe being taught ballet or a hippopotamus attempting the splits. Stretching isn’t fun: it’s torture.
But rest assured, my inflexible friends, your anatomy hasn’t fated you for a life of uncomfortably tight muscles, curled in shoulders, and an inability to reach your toes. Flexibility, ironically, isn’t fixed; it’s flexible. You can change how far your fingers reach and how stiff you feel. Flexibility is yours for the taking.
I know, I know. That’s easier said than done. Our modern lifestyle certainly doesn’t lend us a hand in our flexibility ambitions. In fact, our desks, cars, and couches have a tendency to shrink our hamstrings and slump our shoulders, wrapping our bodies in tightness and pain. But it doesn’t have to be this way. By incorporating stretches into our daily routine, we can mitigate some of the consequences that stem from our fascination with chairs.
A key area of chronic tightness is our neck and shoulder region. In fact, there is even a new name for our screen-strained necks: tech neck. If you have persistent neck and shoulder pain, you are probably suffering from tech neck pain. This condition refers to necks that are chronically angled downwards, heads jutted forward, out of line with the thoracic and lumbar spines. Our head weighs more than a bowling ball, typically clocking in at an average of over ten pounds. This combined with the force of gravity means that, when a head overly protrudes forward, a force of nearly fifty pounds crushes down upon our seven cervical vertebrae and twenty, small neck and shoulder muscles. Needless to say, this hurts… a lot. Tech neck causes muscular pain, stiffness, a limited range of motion, and headaches. Plus, it gets progressively worse over time. Yet, we all have to use our devices on a regular basis. Are we supposed to just resign ourselves to these issues? Thankfully not!
Tech neck pain can be both treated and prevented with key stretching and strengthening exercises. Every week, we see patients who have neck and shoulders issues who then experience relief and see tangible results from the exercises that we assign them.
We’ve included a couple of these exercises below so you can get started!
Check out these illustrations for some easy and effective relief:
This stretch is quite simple! Just put one arm behind your back and, with the opposite arm, gently pull your head towards your shoulder, while keeping your shoulders square and your head facing forward. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 5 times before switching to the other side.
This stretches the upper trapezius muscles, improving your posture and relieving upper back and neck pain.
#2 Levator Scapulae Muscles Stretch
This stretch is a little more complicated but still fairly simply. Place one arm behind your back and the other at the top of the back of your head. Keep your eyes angled towards an imaginary shirt pocket on the same side as the arm behind your head. Pull your head gently towards your arm pit. You should feel a stretch on the side of your neck and along the top of your shoulder. Hold this stretch for 15 seconds and repeat 5 times before switching the other side.
This stretches your levator scapulae muscles, which are often tight and sore. You will find that this stretch both relieves neck pain and shoulder pain and improves your posture.
These stretches are just a few of the ones that we assign our patients and see tremendous results from. They help our patients have less pain, less stiffness, and better posture. You can experience the same relief! You don’t have to keep suffering from a tight neck, shoulders, and back; you don’t have to fall victim to the insidious “tech neck”. You can be flexible and pain-free!
Try these stretches out today and, if you want even more help, contact us to schedule a free discovery session! We would love to take a look at your posture and examine the areas causing pain before offering our expert opinion on how you can feel better and live freer.
Call us today at (858)-847-2025 to schedule a free consultation!