Let’s face it, times are really strange right now. The number of us working from home has skyrocketed, our kids are suddenly studying from home, and we find ourselves staring at our screens now more than ever! While all of this family time can be enjoyable, all of this screen time has many feeling the effects in our necks and shoulders (guilty!). The hunched-over posture with the head looking down lengths the Rhomboids (the muscles of the shoulder blades) and the Erectors (the muscles that run from the base of the skull to the tailbone) as well as the SCM (the muscles in the front of the neck). Oh no! What ever will we do to combat this nation-wide conundrum called “cell phone syndrome”? Have no fear! Sports Performance has some great techniques that will help ease that tension and have you back on track in no time. So let’s jump right in with 4 awesome ways to prevent neck and back pain while working from home.
1. Pectoral stretches: Oftentimes, when we feel back pain, we want to massage the exact spot that is hurting. And that’s fantastic! But don’t forget that the muscles opposite the rhomboids; the pecs can be shortened over long periods of holding our shoulders hunched forward and can be holding our posture in a continued uncomfortable position. So let’s stretch those bad boys out! One easy peasy stretch is to lay belly down on the ground with an arm straight out to the side palm side down. Keeping the shoulder and hand pressed firmly into the ground, rotate the whole body over to that same side. Bonus points for reaching the free hand up and over really intensifying the stretch. Bonus bonus points for putting a lacrosse ball just to the inside of the shoulder where your pec attaches to your shoulder.
2. Another (even easier) chest and neck opening stretch: This one calls for the use of a foam roller or yoga block. You can even stack some books if you have neither of those handy. Look at you, McGiver! Lying on the floor on your back, put your lifting object of choice at the top of the back just between your shoulder blades and go full Titanic with it: lay your head back, open your arms wide to the sides, take a deep breath, and let your body sprawl. Popping of the joints is normal. Just hang out there for a few seconds! Take some deep breaths or count to 30. Take some time to really let your spine and pecs decompress.
3. Now that we’ve stretched and decompressed let’s get into some preventative stuff: First, the neck. The SCM are the meaty muscles in the front of the neck. When we are looking at our screens we often are not just looking straight down, we’re also holding our heads slightly forward. This actually lengthens the SCM. In order to reset our posture we have to strengthen those bad boys right back up. One way to do this is to give yourself as many chins as you can. I’m not joking. Lie on your back, put a lacrosse ball at the base of the skull to one side (the occiput), tuck your chin to your chest, and literally give yourself as many chins as you can. Be sure to give the lacrosse ball as much pressure as you can by pressing your head into it and see if you can hold your head up for 20 seconds on each side! It seems too good to be true, but try it. It kicks my booty every stinkin’ time.
4. Last but not least let’s strengthen the rhomboids: If you remember, the Rhomboids are some of the muscles that help with shoulder blade structure. If we are hunched over looking at our screens, besides our Pecs pulling our shoulders forward, our Rhomboids lengthen and keep us stuck in that poor posture position. How oh how can they be tightened? Sure rows are great, but in a time pinch let’s get more calisthenic. Back to the wall, slightly bend your knees. Press your tailbone, top of your shoulders, and back of head into the wall (think really tall, straight-as-can-be spine). Keeping all three points of contact on the wall, make a goal post with your arms. Straight out to the sides and elbows bent up at a 90 degree angle, press the back of your hands into the wall. Lift the arms overhead slowly keeping your hands, head, shoulders, and tailbone all pressed into the wall. Bring the hands above your head so that your fingertips meet. Pause at the top and then bring them straight back out to the starting position. Slow and controlled is the goal. Give it a few sets of 5 a few times a day and your posture will thank you for life!
Working from home can be stressful. Don’t let neck or back pain add to your stress! Bonus bonus bonus points for sending in photos of all of the chins you can make.
As always, we hope this helps you and if you need anything from me, or the team at Sports Performance, email us at TeamSP@SportsPerformancePT.com….or text us! You can reach us at (619) 724 – 4427.
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