Have you noticed aches and pain in your body that you do not normally have? Do you sit for long periods of time at work and/or at home?

If you answered yes to both of these questions, there may be a connection between the amount of time spent sitting and the pain you are experiencing. When you’re sitting in the same position for long periods of time, your posture is affected. Everyone has a slightly different posture, and posture alone may not cause pain; however, over long periods of time it can lead to muscle imbalances and changes within the body that can cause pain. These muscle imbalances can cause discomfort in your neck, shoulders, mid-back, low-back, hips, and knees. Essentially, you need to keep your body moving and do not want to get stuck in one position for too long.

Staying in one position for too long can cause irritation to any part of the body, particularly the neck if sleeping in a position which puts stress on it. This concept is similar to posture; being in ANY position for too long will cause discomfort (even the textbook  “proper” posture). The body was designed to move and that is why sometimes sleep can be difficult for some people.

This post focuses on neck posture, the influence of the forward neck position, and different exercises to try to alleviate stiffness and pain.

Exercise 1
Suboccipital muscle release. You push your chin straight back to back a big double chin. From here we place a hand on the base of the skull and pull up. This will help loosen up the tight muscles on the back of your neck and strengthen the deep flexor muscles of the neck.

Exercise 2
Thoracic extension. Stretching back over the foam roller will help assist the spine not excessively curve forward; however, avoid stretching over the lower back.

Exercise 3
Lat stretch. Put your elbows on any elevated surface, such as a bench or chair. Then, move your head down towards the ground to stretch the mid back and latissimus muscles.

Exercise 4
Rhomboid strengthening. Laying down and squeezing your shoulder blades together while lifting the arm up will help strengthen the rhomboid. This muscle is usually inhibited when talking about a posture related to forward head and rounded shoulders.

Disclaimer: this is not medical advice. If you have neck pain, you should seek out professional medical advice in person.

Post written by:

Daniel Oberton, PT, DPT