Is Tech Wrecking Your Neck: Therapeutic Corrective Exercises

tech neck 3Corrective exercises are designed to mobilize, strengthen and bring balance back to the body. Corrective exercise is a big part of Yoga Tune Up® classes, and some teachers weave corrective exercises into their traditional yoga classes, too.

The following three moves are great for relieving tech neck. Like any other exercise, moves may need to be modified for the individual. If you are in pain or feel that a particular move might not be right for you, please see a doctor before practicing it.

The neck is sensitive, so work gently. Go about 50% into the stretches and focus on release, not force.

“Neck Sit-Ups” strengthen the neck flexors—the “core” of your neck by, well, just as the name says, holding little “sit-ups” with your neck. Our frontal neck muscles get weak when we carry our head forward, and this sequence invites those tissues back to the movement party. My friend and fellow Yoga Tune Up® teacher Trina Altman shows you exactly how to help them get stronger in this video.

”Scalene Release” is a wonderful neck stretch that I learned from a physical therapist a number of years ago. The scalenes are a group of three muscles on the sides of the neck that run from the sides of the cervical vertebrae to the first and second ribs. Unilaterally, they tilt your neck to that side and turn your head to the opposite side. Bilaterally, they elevate the ribs and flex the head and neck. They tend to get tight with chronic forward head carriage. When tight, they can also contribute to feelings of stress, as elevation of the first rib is part of our stress-breathing pattern.

  • Stand in Tadasana.
  • Keep your chin level, the crown of the head reaching up and the back of the skull reaching back.
  • Tilt your head to one side, drawing your ear toward your shoulder, and hold for a few breaths. Keep the opposite shoulder (on the side being stretched) drawing slightly back and downward.
  • If it feels appropriate, you can gently lift the chin a few inches, so you are both tilting your head and looking up slightly.
  • After anywhere from one to five breaths slowly lower the chin and carefully bring the head back to neutral.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.
  • To deepen the massage, you can gently pin the scalenes while you stretch.
    • If you will be tilting your head to the left, take the first two fingers of your left hand to your right collarbone where your collarbone ends at the sternum. Just above the collarbone you will find a little ropy tendon. This is part of the sternocleidomastoid, and it travels diagonally upward toward the back of the ear.
    • To the outside of that tendon, about a third of the way out and just above the collarbone, you will find part of the scalene group.
    • Very lightly press your fingers into those tissues and delicately repeat the stretch as outlined above. You should feel the stretch deepen.
    • If you feel lightheaded, stop.
  • You likely will find that one side is tighter, and you can repeat the stretch on that side if you like.

“Levator Scapula Stretch”

Your levator scapulae run from the sides of the 1st – 4th cervical vertebrae to the inner upper edge of your shoulder blades. Their main job is to lift the shoulder blades toward your ears, but they also help tilt your head and rotate it to the same side. Bilaterally, they extend the neck.

  • Stand in Tadasana.
  • Keep your chin level, the crown of the head reaching up and the back of the skull reaching back.
  • Tilt your head to one side, drawing your ear toward your shoulder. Keep the opposite shoulder (on the side being stretched) drawing slightly back and downward.
  • Slowly turn your head about halfway toward the shoulder your ear is dropped toward.
  • Carefully move your chin toward the chest.
  • Hold the stretch for one to five breaths.
  • You likely will find that one side is tighter, and you can repeat the stretch on that side if you like.

 

Part I: Ergonomics

Part II: Posture

Part III: Salabhasana Variations

Part IV: Self-Massage with Yoga Tune Up Balls

Part V: Therapeutic Corrective Exercises

Part VI: Take Breaks

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