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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, July 31, 2003

Strengthen your neck — while sitting at your desk

By Michael Klepper
Knight Ridder News Service

Some things in life are inevitable, such as taxes. I would like to add something else — spinal trauma in the form of a bad back or a pain in the neck.

Cervical injuries are among the most debilitating and restrictive injuries you can have, so it's important to take care of the supporting muscles to ensure a healthy and strong back.

Poor posture can complicate and accelerate neck pain. As you exercise, make sure your posture is perfect — abdominals tight, chest out and shoulders back — so that the muscles are trained to hold that posture. If you sit for long hours bent over a desk at work, some simple neck-strengthening exercises are all you need to alleviate some of the stress on the neck.

Neck exercises basically consist of forward and back movements and side-to-side movements.

Begin by sitting on a bench in your best posture. Relax your head, letting it tilt down until you're resting your chin on your chest. Still keeping your best posture, place the palms of your hands on the back of your head. Slowly raise your head off your chest and use your hands to apply a slight resistance. Continue rolling your head back as far as you can. Then remove your hands from the back of your head and place them on your forehead. Again using slight resistance move your head forward until your chin is back to your chest. Continue in this fashion until you have completed 10 repetitions in both directions.

After this allow your head to relax toward one shoulder. Take the palms of your hands and place them against the sides of your head. Right hand for the right side of your head and left for the left side. Again applying a slight resistance, push against your hand until your head has rolled over to the other shoulder. Then reverse the movement and push against the other hand until you have reached the shoulder again. Do this until you have completed 10 reps in both directions.

These exercises can be performed at your desk in the middle of the day to loosen up the neck and possibly avoid headaches.

Working at a desk all day pulls the shoulders forward, so stretching the chest may also help you sit in a better posture.