I recently read that upwards of 90% of internet users are now accessing the internet via mobile devices. As I look around and see so many bodies hunched forward over tiny screens, I am hardly surprised that one of the biggest complaints among students is a sore neck coming from tight shoulders.
Quick check -- where are your shoulders right now? Are they warming your ear lobes? Rounding toward your chest?
Second check -- where is your chin going? How is that forward lunge at your jaw feeling in the back of your neck?
Whether you're stuck behind a desktop or laptop computer, a social media junkie constantly glued to your mobile device, or spending long periods huddled over desk projects, this simple series of mobilization exercises can help. A lot!
Thoracic (T-spine) Massage
This is my favourite place to start because it just feels so good. It also begins from the 'bottom' up. Often, tightness is forming in the neck is coming from as low as the mid-back. For this reason, I like to start by giving the thick straps of muscle in the upper to mid-back a hearty roll.
All you need are two yoga therapy or dense racquetballs and a pouch or knee high sock. Smaller, dense, but still pliable balls work best. Using lacrosse balls or a foam roller that does not adhere to the shape of your back just won't do the same thing. For this movement, I don't want to apply direct pressure to the spine, but rather massage the tissue that runs along the length of the spine.
Shoulder Kneading Bridge
Moving further up the chain, the next thing to loosen up is that thick strap of tissue along the top of your shoulders. You know that portion we instinctively massage or pull at? Yep, that section of muscle is not supposed to be doing all the work of moving your shoulders and arms around, but often does when we are lost in thought or deep in concentration.
For this exercise, you will need two yoga therapy or dense racquetballs and one yoga block or other firm surface to support the back of your hips. Though this is going to be a challenging exercise and will make you painfully aware of tight and tender spots in your upper back, neck and shoulders, I encourage you to spend a little more time exploring the movements and sensations. I recommend devoting a minimum of two minutes to this one, with a goal of working up to five or six minutes.
This last one can be done any time with a yoga strap, belt, or neck tie. The more you commit to this one, the more profoundly you will feel your shoulder mobility improving. Truly, it is a game changer. Not only does it break up tightness in your shoulder girdle, but it also makes you more aware of compensatory quirks, movements, or referential tension, owing to the placement of your shoulders in relation to your neck.
Don't be surprised if you can barely do this one and do not feel bad if you cannot make it through the first minute before needing to rest. Once you have everything in proper alignment, muscles that weren't 'awake' will be kicked in the pants. And it will be tiring!
Have fun playing around with these exercises and let me know how you get on. If you find it useful, please share it with your friends on Facebook or tag them so they can see it, too.
Remember: Consistent and committed practice is what we're after and what will deliver the results we seek. Even if that result as small as less shoulder shrug.
Keep on, Fit Friends!
Disclaimer: Fit Club is not a medical doctor and the information contained herein should not be taken as medical advice. These are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health problem. Recommendations by Fit Club are not intended to replace the advice of a physician or health professional. Please consult your physician or a health professional before beginning any diet or exercise program.