Headaches and neck stress can sneak up on us without us really paying heed… until it becomes too painful or interferes with our activities and sleep.
While a headache can be a symptom for many conditions, it can be caused by poor posture. This is commonly the case if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer. Busy schedules often push us to bypass moments of self-care throughout or work day – such as stretching or massage breaks – that would prevent avoidable discomfort.
About your heavy head…
Your neck is constantly under pressure. It carries your head’s weight, which is about 10 to 15 pounds. (That’s 8% of your total body weight!) Optimal posture places the head’s weight vertically on the shoulders, but many times a day we lean forward, causing the neck to cope with greater force. Each time you lean towards your screen or check your smartphone, your neck is straining with more pressure. Be nice to yourself and learn how to stretch your neck!
Try these two simple stretches to relax your neck muscles and improve your posture. Repeat them several times throughout the day to keep your muscles more relaxed. (If you feel any discomfort or pain during any of these exercises see your doctor!)
A do-it-anywhere neck stretch
Give your neck a light stretch with this exercise. Either sitting or standing with good posture, keep your back straight and shoulders aligned with the hips. Move your head slowly and hold each position for about 20 seconds:
• Tuck your chin down while keeping your back straight. Hold and return.
• Lift your chin and tilt your head backwards. Hold and return.
• Tilt your head to the right by directing your ear towards your shoulder. Hold and return. Do the same move to the left. Hold and return.
• Turn your head to the right and to the comfortable limit of your motion. Hold and return. Repeat the same motion to the left. Hold and return.
Do the corner stretch
Open your chest to compensate for the neck-straining hunching posture we often take on.
- Standing, face the corner of the room with your feet together.
- Place your palms and forearms on each wall at a ninety-degree angle, keeping the elbows a little below your shoulders.
- Gently pull down your shoulders while pushing your forearms against the walls and engaging your abdominals.
- Take a step forward to lunge toward the corner, allowing your chest to lift slightly at you flow through this motion.
- Hold, pull down your shoulders and lift your chest and abdominals in to the corner. Hold for about 20 seconds.
- Step back and release.
- Repeat with the other leg.
There are additional neck stretching exercises that deserve to be in your neck care routine. If you want to learn them or need any help with these stretches, book a consultation.
Stretching through massage and yoga
Yoga is a form of exercise that focuses on calming breath, lengthening of muscles and opening of joints. Therapeutic massage offers another way to stretch out tight muscles. Massage can work through relaxation techniques or deep tissue treatments that can break up scar tissue.
Learning how to stretch your neck and making a habit of it can make neck-stress-induced headaches and neck pain a thing of the past.