Updated: Jun 11, 2020
Phones, computers, tablets – whatever it may be, I can guarantee that a large percentage of us spend a lot of time looking down at our devices. The continual action of looking down for the majority of the day is creating the so called “text neck”.
Correct posture - ear in line with shoulder Text neck - back rounded and neck sticking out
This unnatural posture causes muscular imbalance in the neck leading to some muscles becoming tightened and overworked, whilst others become weakened. As your head juts out, the muscles on the back of your neck become overworked due to the constant contraction, whilst your cervical flexors at the front of your neck become seriously weakened from under use.
This blog post will outline 5 simple neck exercises you can do at your desk to stretch the tightened muscles and strengthen the weakened muscles.
Please bear in mind, I am not a medical professional and you should always seek professional treatment and advice for any injuries or problems you have. These exercises are intended as a guide only.
1) Suboccipital Stretch
Your suboccipital muscles are a group of muscles at the base of your skull and the very top of your neck that are responsible for extending and rotating the head. Our excessive downward
looking posture from gadget use creates a constant strain on these muscles, resulting in them becoming shortened and tightened.
If you suffer from tension headaches, stretching these muscles could go a long way in relieving some of that pain.
To stretch the suboccipitals, think about stretching the head on the neck, rather than the neck!
Begin by lengthening your neck as much you can.
Place your thumbs on the back of your head at the base of your skull (where your skull sticks out) and let your hands come to rest on top of your head
Keeping the neck lengthened, drop the chin down (like you are nodding your head) before bringing it back up.
Try to keep the neck as lengthened as you can during this. Remember – stretch the head on the neck rather than the entire neck!
Repeat 10 or so times.
Hand placement on head Don't round the neck too much, gently drop the head
2) Levator Scapulae Stretch
The Levator Scapulae runs along the side of the neck and is responsible for lifting up the shoulder blade (scapula), joining your neck and shoulder. Our poor posture (rounded back, head sticking out, shoulders up by our ears) causes these muscles to become very tight as they are being overworked.
To stretch your Levator Scapulae (right side), take your right arm up and then place your right hand onto your shoulder, with your elbow pointing up.
Look towards your left shoulder and then drop your gaze down to imagine looking at your collarbone or top jean pocket.
You should feel the stretch along the right side of your neck.
You can place your left hand on the back of your head to deepen the stretch if you like, or you can keep your arm down by your side.
Repeat on the opposite side.
Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, repeating 2/3 times on each side.
Hand on shoulder blade, keep spine lengthened & look towards collarbone
3) Upper Trapezius Stretch
Your trapezius is a large muscle that starts at the base of your neck, spreading over your shoulders before going partway down your back. It is composed of three parts (upper, middle and lower) and has many different functions including lifting the shoulders and holding the neck and head up. Similar to the Levator Scapulae, the upper traps become very tight as we spend a lot of time with hunched up shoulders.
To stretch your upper trapezius, drop your right ear down to your right shoulder, keeping your gaze forward.
You should feel the stretch along the left side of your neck.
To deepen the stretch, you can place the right hand on top of the head with the fingers facing down.
Don’t pull the neck down with the hand, just use the force of your hand to create a deeper stretch.
Repeat on the opposite side and hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, repeating 2/3 times on each side.
Drop the ear down to the shoulder You can use your hand for an extra stretch
4) Flexion and Extension of Neck
Simple flexion (looking down) and extension (looking up) of the neck is a nice and gentle way of stretching the front and back of the neck, relieving any tension.
Keeping the neck as lengthened as possible with the head centred, drop the chin to the chest.
Depending on the level of your tightness in your neck, only go as far as feels comfortable for you.
Bring the head back up to centre, with the gaze forward.
Gently drop the head back so that your eyes can look up towards the ceiling.
Only go as far as is comfortable, stopping when you feel a stretch on the front of your neck.
Alternate between looking up and down, repeating roughly 4 times.
Make sure you are in an upright position Isolate the movement to the neck
5) Neck Flexor Strengthening Exercise
The neck flexors are a group of muscles that sit at the front of your neck and help you maintain neck stability and good posture. The forward head posture that the “text neck” creates results in these muscles becoming significantly weakened.
To strengthen the neck flexors, gently pull your head back as if you are trying to make a double chin!
Keep the neck lengthened with the chin parallel to the ground and simply pull your head back as much as you can.
Hold the stretch for roughly five seconds and repeat approximately 5 times.
Start in a upright position Pull your head back as much as you can
And there you have it! Add these five postures to your daily routine to help relieve any neck pain and tension you might be holding on to. It won't take long and I can guarantee this will go a long way in helping you feel a bit healthier and happier.
I hope these were useful, let me know how you get on!
If there are any other topics you would like me to cover, please do let me know!