For most of us, long days spent at the computer or sitting in front of the desk will cause pain at the base of our neck. Wonder why? Well remember one of my earlier posts about spending most of the day in flexion… well guess what? It’s happening again at the cervical spine (neck) when we spend prolonged periods on the computer, reading a book, knitting, cooking, etc. I always recommend to my patients to stop what you’re doing every 30-60 minutes and perform 12-15 chin tucks to help relieve postural neck pain caused by the activities I have listed above. Here’s what a chin tuck looks like
Confused on how to perform a chin tuck? It’s not looking up or down as you can tell by the picture.. just think of it as one of these 3 things:
Think of an ugly man trying to kiss you – what would you do?Think of a pie being thrown at your face – what would you do? Give yourself a double chin – what would you do?
You most likely have figured out the motion with those examples. Those are common cues I give my patients who tend to perform the exercise incorrectly.
Chin tucks simply put your spine in mid-range extension taking pressure off your discs and ligaments from being spent in flexion for a prolonged time. If you continue to have some tension along your neck here are two stretching that you can perform to help alleviate general neck pain. These stretches are for two muscles that generally become shortened when sitting with bad posture.
Upper Trapezius Stretch
The instruction for this stretch is to bring your ear to your shoulder. In this picture I am stretching the left side of my neck. If you are unable or do not want to place your other arm behind your back you can put your left hand under your left leg if you are sitting down to feel the stretch even more.
Levator Scapula Stretch
As you can see in this photo the only difference is the rotation of the head towards the arm pit. My simple instruction to any patient is to pretend you’re going to sniff your arm pit. I know, pretty corny. As with the picture above, this is stretching the left side of the neck and if you decide you can take your left hand and place it under your left leg if you are sitting down to further feel the stretch.
So go ahead, give them a try and let me know what you think!
All exercises are to be performed at your discretion. If you are having severe pain it is always best to get thoroughly evaluated by a doctor or physical therapist.