If you’re like most people, as you sit at your desk getting work done, your neck muscles will invariable tense up. Here at Lloyd Chiropractic and the Innova Pain Clinic, I have Dr. Andrew White to give me a chiropractic adjustment to set my muscle tension back to 0, and to straighten me out. It feels great to get stuck neck vertebrae moving again.
However, since you don’t have a chiropractor working next to you, here are five things that you can do to take pressure off of your neck and to relax your tight muscles.
- Puff your chest out. As you work at your computer, hunched over your keyboard, your posture gets thrown way off. Try this next time you catch yourself hunched over your TPS reports. Puff your chest out. Puffing your chest out will straighten out your mid-back, providing a level platform for your cervical spine (neck), and all of the muscle that attach to it. When your neck is hunched forward, certain muscles in the front of the neck are shortened and contracted, giving you an unflattering look, and putting too much stress on the muscles in the back of the neck holding you up.
- Get away from the desk and walk around. You aren’t made to sit at a desk all day. You’ve got to get out of your chair every once in a while to walk around. NIOSH calls this a “microbreak.” Walking helps you open up your lungs so you can get more oxygen in the system. Walking also stimulates the locomotion circuits in the nerves in your spinal cord. These spinal cord locomotive pathways are important for muscle control of the muscles in your neck, and they also help provide pain relief by stimulating other pain gait circuits in your brain-stem and spine. But, I don’t need to explain this to you; get up and walk around a little bit.
- Do isometric exercises against your chair. As you are sitting in your boss’s office chair, the one with high head-rest, push the back of your head against the head-rest. Hold a steady contraction against the chair for 5-10 seconds at half strength. This will get the muscles in your neck contracting, and this will stimulate more blood flow to these muscles. When you release the contraction, your neck muscles will end up more relaxed than ever. Repeat this three more times, then repeat steps 1 and 2. You’ll feel more at ease after this.
- Do some slow bending stretches to your neck. Try this to relieve the tension of your neck muscles. Puff your chest out like in step 1. Keeping your shoulders level, slowly and carefully bend your neck to the side. Don’t force it, but hold that gentle stretch for a couple of seconds. Then, slowly rotate your chin to your shoulder on the same side. Hold that gentle stretch too. Feels great? Now, do the other side. (This one feels particularly good because when you rotate your chin to your shoulder, you are augmenting normal spinal coupled-motion where your neck rotates as it bends.)
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together, then down. Advanced exercise! Alright, puff out your chest again like in step 1. Now, roll your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Act like you are pinching a ping-pong ball between your ‘blades. Now with those together as best you can, try to use your back muscles to pull your shoulder blades down. There’s a muscle in your back that controls your shoulder blades’ position; this is called the trapezious. Usually your trapezious is chronically contracted and full of trigger points in the upper portion where your neck meets the shoulders. And, usually, the trapezious is chronically inhibited in its lower part. Getting the lower part to contract is an important part of keeping tension off of your neck and shoulders.
Chiropractic Physician in St. George, UT