From Desk Life to Best Life: Release and Activate the Neck
It's the last blog in our From Desk Life to Best Life journey and I wanted to end the series by talking about the dreaded forward head posture, which is something that affects most of us.
THE DREADED FORWARD HEAD POSTURE
Did you know? "For every inch of your head that moves forward in front of the body, its weight increases by 10 pounds.
I remember the first time I heard this a few years ago and how crazy I thought that was. Fast forward and now every time I go to the coffee shop, my place of business, or favorite watering hole I see so many people with their head dangling in front of their body. Worse yet, is now I'm seeing it in younger and younger people, especially teenagers. In a society where we're constantly looking down at cell phones, tablets, and monitors our necks are screaming for help. So what can we do to combat this growing epidemic? Start learning how to strengthen our necks and get those traps to calm down.
When the head dangles in front of the body our trapezius muscles (traps) are forced to hold on for dear life. They originate right at the bottom of your skull and reach all the way down to the base of the ribs connecting to the spine. Since we spend most of the day with our head forward and looking down, our traps are always tense. The traps become known as long and stuck. When this happens, our fascia starts to lay down supporting structures all along the traps to help them out. Sounds great until we try to move or extend our head backward and we can't! So what do we do? We must release the traps all the way up and down them with a foam roller to get them to start moving again. Check the video below to see how.
QUICK TIPS: Foam Roller Trap Release
Now that we got the traps to start moving, we must now go take care of our scalenes. The scalenes are the pesky little muscles located just above your clavicles in the front of the body. When your head sits forward, this muscle gets short and tight. The video below demonstrate how we get this tissue to start moving again.
QUICK TIPS: Scalenes Release
After we get both sides of the neck moving and grooving, we need to activate some muscles so that we don't lose this new range of motion we worked for. First, we activate the deep front neck flexors. These little guys become super weak and must get stronger so we can keep our head back.
QUICK TIPS: Chin Tucks
QUICK TIPS: Chin Tuck with Head Lift
Last but not least, we have to address the neck extensor muscles located on the back side. Check the video below for instructions.
QUICK TIPS: Neck Extension
We've released the scalenes and the traps, activated the deep front neck flexors and neck extensor muscles, so now what?
BECOME AWARE OF YOUR POSTURE
It's never going to be perfect but here are a few tips and tricks to becoming more aware:
Hold your cellphone up in front of your face whenever using it.
At work, place your monitor just above your vision line.
Flip your headrest around in your car (this makes it actually fit the proper contour of your spine!)
When exercising, always do a chin tuck before every rep. Head and neck alignment is crucial when lifting.
If you catch yourself in a bad position, do a few chin tucks to get you back in the right place.
*Reference: Kelly Starrett, Author: Desk Bound: Standing Up to a Sitting World
ABOUT COACH MATT PIPPIN
Matt is a Strength and Mobility Coach with over 15 years experience in his field and has coached over a thousand professional, collegiate and everyday athletes with the goal to help them move, feel and perform at their highest level. He's incredibly passionate about bringing simple and effective online mobility training programs to everyone who wants to take control of their self care and make lasting change. CLICK HERE to learn more.
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Level 3: Fascial Stretch Specialist
Level 1: Institute of Motion Health Coach
Certified FRC Mobility Specialist (FRCms)
Level 1 Kinstretch Instructor
Weck Method Qualified