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Do you tend to get stiff and sore in your neck and shoulders, from looking down while reading a book, using a smart phone or tablet, or doing activities like needlework? Or perhaps you have arthritis in your neck, back or shoulders? Read on for some relief.
Looking down at your book (or anything else) can be a pain in the neck — literally!
Your head weighs about 10-12 pounds when your spine is in a neutral position. But when you bend your head forward, the stress this places on the neck can be as much as 60 pounds, depending on the angle. And that much load can do damage to you over time. A habit of poor posture can cause you to develop an abnormal curve of the upper vertebrae and a mass of tissue at the lower part of the neck. This can result in a rounded hunch back.
Most of us are not going to stop using our tech devices or reading books, so what can we do about this?
First, try to get in the habit of holding your book or phone at eye level instead of looking down.
If sitting at a desk with your tablet or laptop or book, use a stand to bring your device up to eye level. If you’re in an easy chair or bed, you could stack some pillows on your lap to bring it up closer to eye level. In addition, be sure to take regular breaks to get up and stretch.
Secondly, exercises can help relieve neck tension and strengthen those muscles so that you can reduce discomfort. Here are some exercises you can do for your neck and shoulders. Do these exercises every day to help relieve neck stiffness and strengthen those muscles.
IMPORTANT: If you are experiencing pain or are injured, DON’T exercise until you consult your physician or physical therapist.
Do all of these movements slowly and gently. Do the range of motion that works for you; never force a stretch.
1. Head turn. Slowly look over your shoulder to one side, then front, then to the other side. Repeat 4 times.
2. Side neck bend. Take your ear toward your shoulder. Roll the opposite shoulder down and back, and hold. Keep your shoulders square; do not tilt down or lift shoulders. Bring your head back to center. Repeat on the other side. Repeat exercise 4 times.
3. Chin tuck. This is for relieving tension in the back of the neck. Make an “L” with your index finger and thumb. Place your index finger under your chin and the thumb on your sternum. Keeping your hand stationary, slowly move your chin off the finger, pressing the neck backwards, to form a double chin. Slowly return your chin to the finger. Do not tilt chin; slide straight back and forward. Leave jaw relaxed; avoid jutting the jaw out. Repeat exercise 4-8 times.
4. Shoulder shrug and roll. Shrug shoulders up; then into a backward roll, squeezing your shoulder blades together; then roll shoulders down and back. Imagine putting your shoulders in your back pockets. Repeat 4-8 times, and be sure to do the entire movement slowly.
5. Neck bend and rotation. Place your left hand behind head, elbow out. Looking down, slowly move your chin toward the right side of your chest. Hold 20 seconds. Change arms and do the other side. Repeat.
6. Shoulder blade squeeze. Place arms in a “W” position with shoulders relaxed. Move elbows back, bringing shoulder blades together. Relax, then repeat 4-8 times.
7. Get up and walk. It’s important to get up and take breaks regularly to stretch your legs and walk. Walking helps prevent back, leg and hip pain. It even improves thinking and creativity, according to research.
Here is something else that REALLY helps relieve my stiff back, shoulder and leg muscles – a percussion massage gun. It’s available on Amazon.
©Michelle Rogers, Inc.