Stop Stiff Neck and Shoulders
Associated Physicians Group Physical Therapist Maria Cunningham says it is one of the most common complaints she hears. “It’s no surprise—so many things we do put us in a ‘head forward’ position; talking on the phone, looking at a mobile device, or working on a computer.” Cunningham offers four tips to help prevent stiff neck and shoulder muscles:
1. Postural Awareness
“You don’t have to stand at military attention, but you need to be aware of your posture,
says Cunningham. “I tell my patients to lift their shoulders up, and then roll them back like
they are setting them on a shelf.” This lifts the cervical spine and puts the head and neck in
2. Shoulder Blade Squeeze
Set a timer on your computer and squeeze your shoulder blades together every thirty
minutes. You can also do it when you are driving—at every red light!
3. Seated Shoulder Stretch
Another exercise Cunningham recommends focuses on the upper trapezius muscles of the shoulder. While you are seated, grab the bottom right side of your chair with your right hand and the bottom left side of your chair with your left hand. Tilt your left ear to your left shoulder and hold it for 30 seconds, then tilt your right ear to your right shoulder and hold for seconds. Repeat three or four times. Set a timer and do this every thirty minutes when you are working at your computer or seated for long periods of time.
4. Adjust your posture when looking at your phone or other mobile device.
“You can reduce the amount of stress on your neck by making slight adjustments to your posture,” says Cunningham. “Pull your chin back, and then tilt your head about one-half inch to look at your phone or other mobile device. You will be surprised what a difference this makes!”