Sitting at home? Whether you’re working, watching movies or just scrolling through Instagram on your phone, your neck won’t enjoy these positions for long!
The spine is designed to be upright, with slight natural curves. The curvature in your lower back and neck is called a lordosis. This is a design feature to create more efficient loading through the spine and reduce stress on other structures.
When we are looking down it reduces this lordosis in the neck, bringing it away from its most efficient position, causing increased stress on the muscles of the neck and compression at the very top of our necks just below the skull. This occurs because we have to jam the upper joints of the neck together to look straight ahead in order to compensate for the lower neck going forwards. This results (eventually) in stiffness and pain in the neck, with the possibility of headaches and referred pain into the shoulder blades.
“The curvature in the neck is called a lordosis and is there to create more efficient loading through the spine…”
Josh Sainsbury – Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist
Simply changing position, such as getting up for a minute or two and then returning to sitting, will help reset your posture to a better position. However, for prevention of neck pain this needs to be done regularly (preferably every 30mins) and is why a well set up work-space is essential.
Myofascial trigger points are tight parts of muscles that are causing pain, often referred to as “muscle knots”. They develop in and around the neck when increased stress is put on them for prolonged periods. Common areas for developing trigger points include:
- The Upper Trapezius
The trigger points of the upper trapezius can refer pain into the head, causing headaches.
- The Levator Scapulae
The levator scapulae gets overworked when the upper-mid back becomes overly flexed forwards and the scapula (shoulder blades) protract forwards and around the ribcage.
- Scalene muscles
Scalene muscles attach the first rib to the side of the neck and become overactive with the forwards head posture and because of the shallow breathing that occurs due to not using our full lung capacity – when we are bent over compressing our tummies.
Also check out the post on work set up #stayathomeseries to reduce the chances of this developing and worsening. Our piece on sitting stretches cover the stretches for some of these muscles too.
These stretches are of course a general guide to improving and maintaining mobility. If you’re experiencing any significant pain and discomfort you should contact your physiotherapist or other health care practitioner for advice. You can also contact us here at Vanbrugh Physiotherapy for more information on how we can help.>