Continuing with our month of posture awareness, this week's topic is NECK POSTURE. Now that everyone is back from vacation, we are finding that this is the perfect time for more posture policing.
Whether we are going to remain on Zoom calls or back to the office in person, we are going to have to battle the roller coaster of poor posture.
I can go through the million benefits of why good sitting and good standing posture is key and I can speak at length for days. But for the sake of ease, I'll spare you. We all know deep down that good posture yields better self-esteem and productivity. Today our focus is on fixing and preventing that forward neck and head posture!
Here are my top 4 exercises for preventing forward neck posture!
First Rib Mobilization
Chin Nod Impact
Here's why these exercises work:
After getting at that thoracic spine and rib cage better aligned (from part one in our last blog, you can find it here), getting the shoulder girdle on top of that like a roof on top of our house walls is really important. Clavicle stability or, what I call the cover position, focuses on resetting the front of the shoulder.
Moving onto the next exercise, an elevated first rib can be a deterrent and hurdle to getting and resetting the backside of the shoulder girdle unit.
Then, we can move on to improving the fascia to allow the neck to sit better over the shoulder girdle, which in turn sits better on top of the ribs and mid-spine. Now we're really starting to re-sculpt one's poor posture.
For the last part, I want you to imagine a star on top of a Christmas tree nicely balanced over the branches. The neck needs to learn to be in a better position. So if the chin always manages to be held in an upward position, it puts way too much pressure on the lower part of the base of the neck and creates that forward falling action of one's head and neck. Learning to keep that chin closer to the throat is key to finding that balancing point.
Cover Position: Put your palm across the opposite shoulder and rest it there. With your other arm, place your open hand underneath your bent elbow, like one arm is resting on the shelf of your opposite hand. Press your elbow down into your hand. Apply equal, but opposite force with your hand pushing upward to create a stalemate. Hold this position for about 90 seconds or until the shaking stops. The key to this is to feel the muscles in your armpit and around your collarbone working.
First Rib Mobilization: To do this exercise, you'll need something like a belt or a yoga strap. Loop your strap on the side of your neck through to the opposite side of your trunk. Think about it like you're putting on the Miss America sash. I highly recommend watching the video for the rest, but you'll be using that strap to mobilize and push that first rib into place! This is one of my all-time favorite stretches by the way!
Ligamentum Nuchae: This is another type of stretch and you'll be using your hands to pink the tissue in the back of your neck. Grab the meaty part of the back of your neck and traction it away from the spine. While tractioning, do light yes and no nods of your head which will help re-educate the neck to reposition backward.
Chin Nod Impact: Tiny muscles in the front of the neck are often stretched out due to forward head and neck. This is a great exercise to tighten them back up. As in the video, stick your thumb slightly above the bottom of the chin and press inwards toward your throat. You'll start feeling it!
Routinely doing these exercises for a good 5-6 weeks will yield visible change. If you find yourself needing reminders to avoid poor sitting or standing posture, my favorite device is the Upright Go! We love it so much, we even made it into their commercial. :) You can find a link to the Upright here.
Dr. Justin C. Lin