Why Does My Neck Always Hurt?

I hear it all the time… “my neck always hurts” or “my shoulders are achy and I’m not sure why?”

We live in a society of texting, computers, driving and sitting. The picture below demonstrates what happens when we engage in all this forward leaning activity; the “forward head” posture. Yes… there is something wrong with your spine. Your muscles are pulling it out of alignment. Chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists can help with the pain associated with this new postural position, but the only way to resolve the issue long term, is to fix your posture.
Forward Head Posture

Imagine as you look at this picture to your right. Your head weighs 8 to 10 lbs. That’s like a bowling ball leaning forward, using muscles that were originally intended to keep you upright. Of course these muscles will get sore, causing other structural issues along the way! The best way to correct “forward head” posture is to stretch and strengthen the appropriate muscles and get yourself back into alignment. It’s important to practice this new position in your everyday workouts, and in your life. If you spend 8 hours always in front of a computer jutting your head forward, then you should expect spending at least a few minutes a day working to counteract this posture.

Basic Neck Stretch
 You can do some simple stretches like the one in the picture to the right. You’ve probably seen this one before! However, this stretch will make your neck feel good… But you also have to STRETCH THE CHEST and STRENGTHEN the neck/upper back muscles to help keep the head back in the correct position.
Chest Stretch on a Ball

First, always start with a chest stretch. You absolutely should do this first as it will be difficult to access the back/ neck muscles if your chest is tight and pulling everything forward. Begin with this simple chest stretch to the left lying face up on a stability ball and hold it for one minute. Yes… it feels as good as it looks.

Wall Stand
Yes that’s a white wall behind me

Then, you can move “static wall neck pusher”. Start by standing against a wall with the upper back and head against the wall, but the lower back in it’s natural arch (not touching the wall) and the feet 2 to 4 inches away from the wall. With the palms facing your body, push against the wall with your head and hands an hold this for a minute. While you hold it, think about how you are doing a GREAT job working to strengthen the upper back and neck muscles.

Try these exercises and let me know how it feels. Were you able to keep the shoulders up against the wall? And if so, did pushing your shoulders back jut your head forward?  This happens sometimes if you’re really rounded. First start with pushing the head against the wall. Then, gradually the shoulders will follow if you focus hard on getting them back. Leave a comment below to let me know how it goes.

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