Is baby the tipping point? Exploring neck and shoulder pain
I’ve been prescribing exercise for women after they have had baby since 2001 and have found that although the basics of rehabilitating the body remain the same (pelvic floor recruitment, pelvic and core stability) more and more I am needing to address postural change that partly comes with the demands of parenting. I think while baby probably is the tipping point, our new smart device lifestyle has us looking down far too much. The head is heavy and it is no surprise that as it teeters on the top of our neck and we constantly look down those muscles holding it there become strained and painful.
I am not for one minute suggesting that you stop looking down at your precious baby. So here are a number of everyday tips that will help you realign your posture and reduce neck and shoulder pain:
- Recognise that this is a habit you have
The smart device boom has really only taken off in the last 5 years or so, laptops prior to that but 10 years ago most people used desk top computers for a majority of their online presence. Is this you?
- Ergonomically set up your computer station
As a basic guide knees, hips and elbows should be at right angles and the screen should be at eye level – that is straight ahead. Perhaps this means purchasing portable keyboard and some kind of structure to pop your device higher than your lap. This applies to the use of laptops and tablets.
- Stretch the neck and shoulders regularly
Look side to side, up and down, ear to shoulder – notice where the tension is. Hold these stretches for up to 30 seconds each side. This will reset the posture and relieve tension and lactic acid build up in these areas
- Pull your head in (nicely)
Chin jutting forward? Just gently retract the chin lengthening the neck at the back. Sit up tall as if someone is pulling you up by your hair. Lie on your back and gently retract the chin so the neck is pretty much touching the ground
- Use your eyes to look down and / or lift your arms for brief smart device use – like texting
Lie on your back over a roller – spine to the roller long ways. Let your arms fall to the sides (T shape). If your arms aren’t touching the ground you are very tight across the chest – regularly lie down and practise this posture.
Finally, if your neck and shoulder pain has set in see a physio for treatment or speak with a fitness professional with expertise in postural improvement.
Jo Cordell-Cooper operates Active Solutions and Health Network, an award winning business specialising in women’s fitness at all ages and all stages. www.activesolutionsandhealthnetwork.com.au, 0409 862206