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Stretching Exercises For Your Neck, Shoulders and Spine

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To avoid placing undue stress on your neck, shoulders, and spine while you're sitting, your head must be poised in a comfortable, centered position. Here's a simple way to make yourself more aware of the most comfortable position possible.

(1) Sit comfortably in an armless chair or on a bench, with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your eyes open while you read these instructions, but after you get used to this exercise, try it with your eyes closed. Breathe naturally and comfortably.

(2) Lengthen your neck, and let your head move up. As you raise your head, bring your chin slightly in, broaden your shoulders, and flatten your lower back.

(3) Gently lean your head to the left, then to the right. Finally, return your head to the most central, balanced position - that is, the place directly over your body where you can balance it without feeling any muscle strain.

(4) Move your head slightly forward and then back. Then find the precise center once again.

(5) While you do this, work with the following image: visualize yourself carrying a weight on top of your head. Your task is to push up against that weight, holding it in position so it won't fall off. If you keep in mind this image of a weight, you'll give your senses instant, valuable signals that will help balance and stabilize your head and neck.

Try using this awareness exercise whenever you sit down, when you're waiting in line, and when you are about to start some chore. Using these movements and this imagery enables you to relax your neck. You'll quickly and consciously choose where to hold your head with the least strain.

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