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Long hours at a computer don't have to be a pain in your neck. Try these exercises
Hold your head high to avoid straining neck muscles
But there are some simple things you can do to avoid this problem. For the most part, all that’s required is a few simple adjustments to your posture and the layout of your work area.
The head weighs approximately 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms). When it’s held in a forward position (away from its centre base above the shoulders) there’s a three-fold increase in the amount of pressure exerted on the cervical (neck) vertebra. That’s 36 lbs. (16 kg) of pressure being placed on that tiny column of bones in your neck.
The muscles in this area must work hard to stabilize and support the head, and you can be sure they’re putting in overtime if you’re slouching while tapping away on the keyboard. To minimize tension in the neck and shoulders, try the following:
Relax your arms at your sides while holding two light dumbbells in your hands. Raise your shoulders to your ears. Pause while tensing the muscles of your upper back.
As you lower your shoulders, roll them backward, while still keeping the muscles tense. Relax them when you are back at the starting position. Repeat for three to four sets (groups) of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Workplace Tip: The shrug (without the weights) is also a relaxing tension-reliever. While working at your computer, take frequent breaks to shrug away the tension.
The Upright Row
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees relaxed. Hold a barbell or dumbbells with arms hanging straight down in front of your body. Palms face inward. Space your hands about
8 in. (20 cm) apart, which is best for more focus on the neck and upper back (when hands are wider apart, this becomes mostly an exercise for the shoulders).
Slowly row the weight to your chin, bending your elbows to rise higher than your hands and shoulders. Try raising your elbows as high as possible. Pause when your hands are at collarbone height, and then slowly lower to starting position.
Repeat for about three to four sets (groups) of 10 to 12 repetitions. Keep the weight close to your body as you lift and lower.
Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.