If you spend many hours every week sitting at a desk working on a computer, you likely have a stiff or sore neck and shoulders. Here’s an easy exercise that you can do at your desk that will help to mobilize the neck and stretch the tight muscles.
- First, you need to sit up really tall and balance on your sitting bones (those bones you can feel in your buttocks!)
- Look straight ahead and try not to lift your chin when you do the exercise
- Imagine holding the steering wheel of your car at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions
- Lift your heart up a little
- Pull your imaginary steering wheel apart
- Look straight ahead and pull your head back as if you were a turtle retracting its head back into its shell
- Hold here for 3 breaths before you release
- Repeat 3 times
When you pull the steering wheel apart, you are contracting the muscles in your upper back that tend to get very weak when we sit for long periods. Lifting the heart helps these muscles contract as well. Pulling your head back as if you were a turtle helps to stretch the tight muscles at the back of the neck.
Try it! And if you want more great exercises that you can do at your desk, check out my Computer Hunchbacks workout on my website (link on the right). It’s a downloadable, MP3 workout that you can do in 15 minutes – guaranteed to help with your neck and shoulder pain. I promise!
Personalizing Pilates is now Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited! That means that you can purchase and download my Pilates MP3 workouts without any worries or hassles! I have always promised great workouts and great service and now you have the BBB’s guarantee as well. You can preview and purchase workouts at www.personalizingpilates.com or simply click on the gravatar on the right hand side of this page.
All the best,
In an earlier post, I talked about Pilates being the fountain of youth and I promised to share my own personal before and after photos. So here’s my story.
I was cleaning drawers out a couple of years ago and I found this first photo. I was horrified. It was taken in 1989 just before I turned 33. Note the great 80’s sunglasses (aren’t they back in fashion now?). At the time, I was working out a lot. I taught aerobics four or five times a week and I was doing weights as well. I also worked in the corporate world so I sat at my desk for endless hours every day. Despite all the exercise, look at how horrible my posture was!!!! I stood like an old woman. My upper back is rounded and I had the beginnings of a Dowager’s hump which is directly related to poor posture. My neck hurt so much that I had trouble turning my head and I had frequent headaches. I had not started doing Pilates yet, in fact, I didn’t even begin with Pilates for another seven years and my posture only got worse!
My ‘after’ photo was taken 16 years later! I was standing on the dock and I didn’t hear my husband sneaking up to take the photo – so I didn’t have any chance to correct my posture. And look at the difference! I’m standing tall, I’m not rounded forward and the Dowager’s hump thing has gone! And the only thing that I can attribute this change to is Pilates. My neck pain is gone and I can put on my socks without my hips hurting!!
I am sharing these photos to show you that you can change your posture, how you feel and how you look by being consistent with some basic Pilates exercises just 2 or 3 times a week. If you need help, please let me know. My email and website are on the right side of the page.
Have a good one!
I was working with a new client today who was having trouble doing ab work because her neck hurt so much. This client is in her 40’s, sits at a desk all day and has what we term a “kyphotic” or “round-shouldered” posture. This type of posture is really common nowadays because many of us sit for long, long periods of time. If the spine is not properly supported, the upper back rounds too much and the head goes forward. This puts a lot of strain on the neck. Over time, the neck muscles become overly tight and cannot relax. All that to say that when you do Pilates, the neck tends to strain a lot.
Here’s my trick to help this little problem.
Lie on your back, with your knees bent. Interlace your fingers together and place them behind the back of your head. As you lie there, feel how heavy your head is in your hands. It weighs between 8 and 12 pounds depending on the person so it will feel quite heavy! Now, drop your chin slightly and bring your elbows forward just enough that you can see them in your peripheral. As you exhale, pick up your head with your hands so that it is just 1 or 2 inches off the floor. With your head lifted, feel how heavy it is. If your head feels lighter than it did when you were resting on the floor, that tells me that you are over-using your neck muscles and they are going to get cranky! Now keep your head lifted and see if you can let it rest heavy in your hands. Feel the difference? Your neck relaxes!
When I teach, I always cue my clients to have a “heavy head in their hands” when doing any sort of abdominal work.
Try it and let me know how it works for you!