If you work at a desk, you probably experience neck aches regularly. These days, it’s one of the most commonly reported chronic discomforts.
Neck issues can result in a host of pain problems including headaches, nerve pain, and even shoulder issues.
In 5 minutes or less, here’s how to make desk life less of a pain in the neck.
The neck is a cobweb of muscles. We are going to focus on 3 major muscles: the sternocleidomastoid, the scalenes, and the levator scapulae.
The sternocleidomastoid are the muscles that start at the bony process behind your earlobe and end at your clavicle (collar bone). If you have trouble finding them, turn your head sideways and look/feel for the large diagonal muscle. These muscles get tight after long periods of keeping your chin tucked or your head rotated to one side.
The scalenes are a collection of 3 muscles: the scalenus anterior, scalenus medialis, and scalenus posterior. There are 3 one each side of your neck between your sternocleidomastoid and your traps, attached to the lower half of the cervical spine (neck vertebrae). The anterior and middle scalenes attach to your first rib, the posterior attaches to your second rib. Like the sternocleidomastoid, these also flex and rotate the neck. They also elevate the first rib. Shrugged posture
The levator scapulae start at the upper half of the cervical spine and end at the upper inner corner of the scapula (shoulder blade). These are some of the larger muscles that influence the neck. They elevate the shoulder blades and extend the neck (as in looking up).
Self Myofascial Release for the neck should be done gently and kept away from the throat. The best practice is the roll gently until you find a point of muscular pain or tension. When you've identified a knotted area, gently lean into the ball and breath deeply. Typically, this is more effective on the scalenes and levator scapulae.
After removing knots in your neck muscles, you can achieve a very effective stretch to all 3 of our target muscles with one technique. Be gentle and hold positions where you feel tension for 30 seconds.
Strength and mobility imbalances can have a lot to do with neck stiffness. Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) are a great way to help move the neck through a full range of motion.
After hours/days/weeks/months/years of phone posture your levator scapulae can get stretched out and weak. One of the most effective strength exercises to fix that forward head posture is easy to do anywhere. Standing with your back against a wall. Firmly press the back of your head into the wall for 10 seconds. That’s one rep. Do one set of 10 reps.
Putting these together into a brief daily maintenance routine is simple.
Repeat 1-3x per day. If you experience acute pain stop and consult your doctor.
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