One of the areas that I hear the most complaints about is pain and stiffness is the neck. And it’s not surprising when you consider the amount of weight it is holding up. The human head can weigh 8-12 pounds and even more if one has long hair. Not to mention all of those heavy thoughts some of us carry around. I was blown away recently to see Bobby Lee, the fantastic bass player and vocalist of the band SOJA swing his long dreadlocks around by circling his neck for an entire song while keeping the bass line pumping. In a future blog, we will discuss building neck strength
In this blog, we present some simple exercises to help improve posture and restore mobility to the neck and back. Often, pain and stiffness in the neck is related to the lower back and to the shoulders. Thus, doing some spinal waves as you see in the first video below can help open the neck. Start with you feet facing forward, shoulder width apart, and push down with the inside of your feet while you slightly bend the knees, pull out with your ankles and knees and tuck your pelvis. Then let the wave ripple up from feet through the knees as you push your hips forward. Feel the wave travel from the tailbone through the entire spine all the way to the neck. The more fluid this movement becomes, the more easily you will feel you neck release and the more space you will feel in your spine and neck. You can even do the wave from a sitting position by tucking your pelvis and letting the chin drop forward, and then the tilting the pelvis and letting the wave roll all the way up.
These two quick and easy sequences will help relax the muscles that support the head and neck, improve mobility and range of motion and give you some tools to improve your overall spinal health and posture. They are great to do before and after your practice, whether that is strength training, sports, yoga, or sitting at the computer. Choose one or both to try for a few days and see how you feel.