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Tips for dealing with neck pain

A pain in the neck can be an annoying problem. I taught 2 techniques to “free up your neck in my FB Live in our Private Aging Strong Pilates Facebook community.      Watch it here!    (If you haven’t joined our group, you will need to join the group in order to watch.     (Don’t worry — no spam)    

In the meantime, try these tips for a healthy neck

1. Chin Tuck

When you drive, use the headrest to stretch the back of your neck out as pictured. Think of pressing the base of your head into the headrest, and that will drop your chin and stretch the muscles at the back of your neck.  When pushing the base of your head back, you’ll experience a stretch behind your neck. This is a great exercise for correcting forward head syndrome, which is rampant in our society.

2. Know which way is up

Grasp a good-sized clump of hair at the crown of your head and gently pull back and up, allowing your chin to angle downward in a relaxed way. When pulling the tuft of hair from the crown of your head, your head will align, the chin will drop slightly, and you’ll feel a stretch behind your neck. People often make the mistake of thinking that standing tall involves lifting the chin. Know which way is up!

3. Keep the spine aligned

a) When sleeping on your side at night, use a pillow that supports correct alignment with the rest of your spine. You don’t want your head tilted up or flopped down off your spine.
(b) When bending, such as to pick something up, do not lead with your chin, as this encourages a forward head position.
Keep your head in alignment with your spine, as seen below.
The feedback of the dowel promotes ideal positioning.

4. Check your foundation


The root of many neck problems is in the pelvis, the foundation for your entire spine.
(a) Sit with your Sitz bones pointed straight down, not tucked under.
(b) Stand with your soup in the imaginary pelvic bowl, neither spilling behind you (a tucked position) nor spilling in front (a swayback). Your ribs are relaxed, not collapsed. 

 

5. Roll your shoulders back and down

Periodically throughout the day, and as preparation for driving and keyboarding, roll your shoulders and let them settle back and down into a healthy position. Having your shoulders back and down helps your trapezius muscle keep a healthy length, which helps your neck.

 

6. Use your muscles and spare your joints

(a) When walking, engage your buttock (gluteal) muscles to soften your landing. You don’t want your neck (or any of your weight-bearing structures) to experience an earthquake with every step you take. Bonus: making every step a rep will give you a well-toned behind and will make your walk more graceful.

(b) If you are jogging or riding in a bumpy bus, imagine you are carrying a significant weight on your head and push up against it with the crown of your head. You will be engaging your longus colli muscle and sparing your neck discs and nerves from unnecessary wear and tear.

 

I teach you two techniques with a towel to liberate your neck in this video here!    You’ll need to join the Aging Strong Pilates private community to view.