A very common problem we see in our office is people complaining of shoulders tightness or tension in the upper back and lower neck. The type of tension that requires lots of requests for ‘give my shoulders a rub’.
Is this you?
Or can you hear someone close to you at home or at work saying that all the time?
What happens with many people that spend much of their day sitting with their head forward or leaning over, such as chefs, parents with small children, is that the weight of the head places a lot of strain on their upper back and lower neck. When our head is not sitting directly over our shoulders (on profile our ear should sit over the mid point of our shoulder) then each centimetre that the head is forward the load on our shoulders/upper back is 4kg. If our head sits 2cm forward that is a 8kg load and 3cm forward is a 12kg load. Remember that our head is at least 5kg – it’s like holding a bowling ball in front of us as opposed to holding it close to our body. The strain becomes greater as we move the weight away from the centre, whether we are talking about our head or a bowling ball. So this prolonged head forward posture can cause stress and strain and potentially pain in the upper back and neck.
Here are 3 things to work on if you do have shoulder tension;
1. HOOK STRETCH
Neutral Position: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and palms facing forward with shoulder blades pulled together and down slightly. Gently pull belly button to low back to engage core muscles. Gently tuck your chin into your chest to engage your deep neck flexors.
Imagine you have a hook in your chest bone and a string that attaches the hook to a helium balloon. Then imagine the gentle tug the balloon places on your chest, elongating your torso.
Do this multiple times during the day.
When you have mastered this one you can do this at the desk, in the car while walking, etc.
2. SHOULDER ROLLS
Get into neutral position as in point 1. above.
Roll shoulders back and down as you tighten the muscles in-between your shoulder blades (rhomboids). This should take several seconds, so do it really slow and deliberately.
Repeat as many times as you feel. Start with a few and you can work up to 10 after a bit of practice.
3. POSTURE POLE
The Posture Pole can be replaced by using a couple of towels rolled up if you don’t have a posture pole. Lying on a semi-circle helps to place your upper and mid back into extension and gets the neck into a neutral position. While keeping the legs bent and palms facing the ceiling, slowly increase your time on the pole/towels from a few minutes to 15 minutes.
If you are still experiencing pain or tension in your back then consider getting your spinal health checked to see if you spine is aligned well and moving well.
Call us on 9329 1118 and one of our chiropractors will be more than happy to speak with you.