A lady came up to me after a class recently and asked if I knew anything she could do for her sore neck.
I took one look at this lady and could see immediately why she was suffering with a sore neck. Her back was hunching forward and her neck had to crane at an uncomfortable angle to be able to see straight ahead.
This is an all too common problem in these days of screen watching, ipads, laptops, desktops, smart phones etc. Sometimes we get so absorbed in what we are doing that we forget to sit up straight and tall. And in the case of hand held devices we continually look down.
When the head is in a balanced position on top of the spine with the ears aligned on top of the shoulders, the neck is comfortable and there is no extraneous tension. However when the head is dropped forward the muscles at the back of the neck become strained as they have to work harder to hold the head in place. It is said that for every 2.5 cm the head is held forward an extra 4 kilos is added to the loading on the neck. This not only impacts on the soft tissue of the neck but also over time the vertebrae lose their support and can start to compress nerves.
After a while we also lose the core strength needed for holding our spine in a comfortably supportive position and the muscles in the front of our shoulders and chest tend to tighten, drawing the shoulders forward and caving in the chest. As the spine stoops forward our head moves into a downward looking position, then to look forward we have to over arch it and compress the back of the neck making the posterior muscles short and tight with no support from the sides and front.
Therefore it is strongly recommended to take the following steps:
- Strengthen your postural muscles
- Release tightness in the chest
- Release tightness in the neck
- Don’t slouch
- Hold the phone or ipad higher so you dont have to drop your head to look at it.
I recommended to the lady who was enquiring that she incorporate a supported version of the Fish pose into her daily routine. This will help to release tension in the chest and neck and help to take the hunch out of the shoulders and bring the neck in line with the rest of the spine. To get the most benefit from this pose one should stay in it for at least 2 minutes every day. However in order to be able to maintain good posture throughout the day it is very important to learn to always engage her three main bandhas. In fact they should be engaged at all times except when one is relaxing.
- Mula bandha to support her lower back
- Uddiyana bandha to support her middle back
- Jalandhara bandha to support her neck
By Vrndavan Dasi
Founder and Principal of Veda Yoga Teacher Training