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How to avoid that pain in the neck

Enjoy hearing from readers! This article is a result of one of those readers sending me an email expressing an interest in exercises for stretching neck muscles.

No wonder necks might want to be stretched. When you think about it, that head the neck supports weighs about 10 or 11 pounds. When you hold tension in the neck, then add bad posture, causing your head and neck to be out of alignment, your poor neck has been subjected to a lot of trauma.

And it isn't just the neck that is carrying all that tension and discomfort. Spending prolonged periods of time at a computer, walking with rounded shoulders, slumping in your car seat and poor sleeping habits can cause tightness and discomfort in your neck, as well as in your shoulder and back muscles.

Tips for reducing neck tension

• Check your "pillow posture." Sleeping on too many pillows can cause the neck to bend in an unnatural position, creating too much stress on the neck. Your head and neck should be aligned with the rest of your spine. The best sleeping position for a balanced spine is on your side or back.

• Use foam rollers to massage out trigger points. You can find them in most stores that carry exercise equipment. Look for a full-length foam roller that is 6 inches in diameter. Check with a personal trainer or physical therapist before using a roller.

• As a preventive, take breaks from being in a static position and move around. Stretch the neck, shoulders and back muscles several times a day during these breaks.

• Warm up your muscles before stretching. Stretching after a long hot shower will loosen the muscles, which is great for a morning or evening stretch. For a warmup during the day, spend a few moments performing cardio movements such as jogging in place, marching or pretending you are jumping rope.

• Never stretch to the point of pain.

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Contact her at slafit@tampabay.rr.com.

Hold stretches for 15 to 30 seconds, repeating three or four times.

m Spinal twist: This exercise helps relieve tension in the lower back, neck and shoulders.

Sitting with your feet flat on the floor, abdominals contracted, keeping your back straight and hips square to the front, turn your torso and head to the right, letting your hands touch the sides of the chair. Only twist as far as is comfortable. Repeat on the other side.

m Arms-behind-back neck stretch: This is a deep stretch for the sides of your neck.

Stand with your feet hip width apart. With both hands behind your back, hold your left wrist with your right hand. Using your right hand, gently straighten the left arm as you move it away from your back. Lowering your right ear toward your right shoulder will increase the stretch in your neck. Repeat on the other side.

m Upper back stretch: This exercise releases shoulder and upper back tension.

Sitting in a chair or standing, stretch your arms in front of you at shoulder level, turning your palms so they face away from each other. Cross your arms and press your palms together. Contract abdominals and round your back, stretching your arms away from you while you relax your head.

How to avoid that pain in the neck 09/26/16 [Last modified: Monday, September 26, 2016 12:24pm]
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