This is for the girl (or guy) reading the screen with her elbows on the desk. The girl with her neck flexed forward, scrolling through Instagram on her phone. Because the sad fact is, looking at screens all day is a major cause of neck pain. Preventing that pain is a two-step process: first step, Awareness; second step, Activation. Here's how to stop it in its tracks.
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Step 1: Awareness - The Set Position
Preventing pain is about being aware of the Set Position and maintaining it while sitting and standing. Here's how:
1. Stand up with your arms by your side.
2. Rotate your arms so that your palms face forward. Notice your shoulders rotate back into the socket. This is the Set Position.
3. Relax your arms and notice what happens to your shoulders - they drop and come forward. This forward position increases the chance of injury to your neck.
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Step 2: Activation - Upper Back Strength
Use resistance training techniques to strengthen the upper back and make the Set Position easier to maintain.
1. When you're in the Set Position, notice the muscles in your back that turn on.
2. Make sure you turn these muscles on to create the Set Position before performing ANY resistance training exercise.
3. To strengthen these muscles, complete exercises like seated row, deadlifts and bent over row.
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The above two-step technique is also important when doing yoga, which can be a form of resistance training. I'm a yoga fan, but in this case there is potential for harm. In a push-up or downward dog sequence, holding the Set Position is very hard. In most classes the only person able to do this will be the teacher. I recommend completing the lowering phases of these movements on your knees.
If you experience neck pain, think about pulling your shoulder blades down and across to your back pocket on the opposite side. Think about this action or the set position while sitting, in yoga class and while doing any kind of resistance training.
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