how to deal with corona neck pain

Delighted as we are to be allowed to stay home to work (unless you have children to edutain, in which case you probably can't wait for an excuse to leave the house for a day without them), many of us are suffering the slings and arrows of this outraegous fortune in the form of neck pain from all the increased looking down at laptops.


What are the causes and more importantly, what can we do about it? (scroll down for the latter...)


Cause: Looking down at a laptop/iphone for prolonged periods. This causes a strain on the muscles of back of your neck (trapezius mostly), which is the pain you're feeling.


Posture is only a small part of the story. DURATION is far more relevant. There's no such thing as poor posture; posture is only "bad" if we're there for too long. Even "good (upright) posture" can become achy after a while as your muscles fatigue. Variety is key.


The pain in your neck is a signal from your body that it needs to move.


Solutions:

  1. Lift your screen to eye level while reading/watching. Use a pile of books or yoga blocks if you have them.

NB - of course this isn't ideal if you're using a laptop because how the blazes are you supposed to type with your keyboard at shoulder height? You aren't. Bring it back to the table and just tuck your chin to keep the back of your neck long (instead of letting your head droop forward). But not for long - most important is to vary your position and refer to number 2... You could always invest in a keyboard so you can keep your laptop screen high on blocks but type in a reasonable position.


2. Keep moving.


Our bodies love to move and hate staying in the same position for a long time. Even when we sleep we move, it's that important.


LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, it will tell you what you need. If it doesn't, I will:


  1. Shoulder rolls - I'm doing this right now! Every now and then roll your shoulders backwards or forwards, or a bit of both.

  2. Neck stretches and mobilisations - dropping an ear to a shoulder can feel lovely. Rotate your head left and right, or try Egyptian style head shifts left and right (see video for a visual). Look up, sniff your armpits, make circles. Keep it slow then you'll have time to feel what's good and what's not.



3. Tuck your chin. Think ballerina neck, gloriously long all round. This will lengthen the back of your neck, thereby offloading the muscles at the back of your neck and simultaneously strengthen the deep muscles at the front of your neck which will help to hold your head more upright in the long term.


4. Strengthen the muscles of your neck using a coffee table by kneeling before a sofa/chair/coffee table and placing your forehead on the edge of it. Keep your hands on the floor for support and gradually reduce the support through your hands to make your neck muscles work harder. Then turn over, put the back of your head and arms on the seat, and lift your hips up and down a few times. Just enough to get your muscles working, not exhaust them. Using the arms to assist is important because otherwise it can be too much strain on the neck, which could result in the thing we're trying to resolve.


5. Move your arms - circles, waves, reach them behind you, whatever, just move them every now and again.


6. Change position regularly - get up to make tea/ get a glass of water/ have a wee and use these micro breaks to move and stretch.


7. Reduce the amount of time you spend looking down at a screen. Yep, it's as common sense as that. whether you do it or not is another matter...


The key really, is to keep moving, in case I hadn't made that clear enough! Little and often, just small basic movements can make a huge difference.

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