A pain in the neck really can be a pain in the neck! Here are some tips on how to address this annoying problem:
1. Stretch it out.
- When you lie on your back, stretch the back of your neck out as you lay your head on the pillow. This way the pillow can help lengthen any tense muscles in your neck.
- When you drive, use the headrest to stretch the back of your neck out.
2. Know which way is up.
- Grasp a good-sized clump of hair at the base of your skull and gently pull back and up allowing your chin to angle downward in a relaxed way.
- Place a small pillow on the top of the head (on the slightly sensitive spot where your fontanel used to be) - this marks the axis along which to align your neck and back.
Notice the alignment of this girl's head with
her torso as she hip-hinges to pound her millet
3. Keep the spine aligned
- When sleeping on your side at night, use one large or two small pillows so your head does not flop too far out of alignment with the rest of the spine.
- When bending, do not lead with the head as this encourages a head-forward baseline position.
4. Check your base.
The root of many neck problems is in the pelvis, the foundation for your entire spine.
- Sit with your tail out behind you instead of under you.
- Stand with your tail behind you instead of between your legs.
5. Roll your shoulders back.
Periodically throughout the day, and as preparation for driving and keyboarding, roll your shoulders back into a healthy position. Having your shoulders back and down helps your trapezius muscle keep a healthy baseline, which helps your neck. (Click here for a free download on how to do a shoulder roll from my book 8 Steps to a Pain Free Back)
6. Use your muscles, spare your joints.
- When walking, engage your buttock (gluteus) muscles to soften your landing. You don’t want your neck (or any of your weight-bearing structures) to experience an earthquake with every step you take. Bonus: making every step a rep will give you a well-toned behind and will make your walk more graceful.
- If you are jogging or riding in a bumpy bus, imagine you are carrying a significant weight on your head and push up against it. You will be engaging your longus colli muscle and sparing your neck discs and nerves unnecessary wear and tear.
Here's to a healthy neck!
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