This Month's Focus:
Necking. Let’s talk about it.
This month, I’ll be sharing some of my own neck challenges and goals, as well as some specific tips from trainers and therapists to decrease pain and increase strength/range of motion in your neck. If you’re a tech master, an industry worker, a construction guru, or anyone that experiences regular neck pain, feel free to follow my Instagram feed.
Ah, the neck - that poor, teetering post we’ve curiously chosen to balance 8-10 pounds of weight upon every day. Imagine a toothpick, broken up into 7 rotating parts, topped with a bowling ball that’s constantly leaning towards the nearest iPhone.
If you’d like to geek out a bit on the exact anatomy of the neck
(while also enjoying one of the truly best accents ever to grace YouTube), head here.
Restrictions and pain in your neck muscles can lead to headaches, ringing in the ears, jaw pain, and restricted breathing (which can increase anxiety). As your head finds more difficulty swinging around, the rest of your body reorients bit by bit to keep you stable and upright. A shoulder tips this way, your spine curves that way, the hip follows that way… the next thing you know you’re feeling an ache in your knee and your head won’t stop pounding.
Ill conceived table heights, chairs perfect only for slouching or making your butt go numb, and the 16 electronics on your desk constantly vying for attention put you first in line for Neck Pain City. Those delicate, precise muscles of the neck are designed to swing and pivot the head, not cling desperately for hours to a heavy skull tipping towards a monitor. The most relief your neck gets during the day is as you “stretch” while innocently observing your co-worker’s screen. Even you Standing Deskers don’t escape uncramped - either your head creeps toward the screen or the stiffness in your low back creeps toward your skull.
While your tray arm has mastered the art of balancing six plates, oversized cutlery, a drinking glass, and a partridge in a pear tree, your neck has been cursing the day you got your food handler’s card. Fine nerves and blood flow run between the tiny muscles of your neck all the way to your fingers and are slowly and steadily being crushed under the weight hanging off your forearm. This often results in tingling or numb fingers, aching wrists, and screaming elbows.
Your workstation isn’t too high or too low - it hasn’t even been built yet. Hours spent hammering into awkward corners or installing tile from your hands and knees, not to mention the endless assortment of electric tools vibrating up to your skull. Similar to bartenders with their cocktail shaking, over-tight forearms and shoulders send all that weight and impact in a direct line up to the tiny muscles of your neck. But your greatest risk comes from your constant downward head tilt. Think tech-neck, with a higher risk of losing a finger.
You know why your neck hurts.
However you chose to join the Necking Party, just remember you don’t have to stay a member forever. Many of my clients come in with pain in their necks, either from on-the-job, repetitive stress problems or impact related, whiplash injuries. The following are some simple stretches and exercises they found useful to help increase mobility and to strengthen their cervicals.
Before & After Work:
Assisted Head Stretch: 5-10 second holds, each side
Use your hand to gently pull your head to your shoulder, on both sides. Only go as far as to feel the stretch, not to cause pain. Concentrate on keeping your nose facing forward, and not lifting your shoulder to your ear. Try to look as creepy as the girl in the photo.
Back Extensions: 5-10 second holds, 3 times
Lie on your stomach, arms stretched above your head, face pointing to the carpet. Lift your head and arms simultaneously as high as you can towards the ceiling, while keeping your eyes on the floor. Reward yourself with a Netflix show afterwards.
That’s it! Until next month, Neckers!