• When life is a pain in the neck

  • We all do it. We hunch over computer keyboards and dinner tables. We slouch in front of TVs. Even reading in bed can cause problems. Bad posture is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to chronic neck pain.
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  • We all do it.
    We hunch over computer keyboards and dinner tables. We slouch in front of TVs. Even reading in bed can cause problems. Bad posture is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to chronic neck pain.
    The exercises below are meant to relieve tension and to strengthen and stretch the neck muscles. If you have serious neck issues, consult your health care professional before doing any of these moves.
    For maximum effectiveness, perform one exercise at a time throughout the day. Done slowly and gently on a regular basis, they can help relieve tension, headaches and soreness brought on by less-than-perfect posture.
    Neck flexion
    1. Gently drop chin toward chest. Keep arms and shoulders relaxed.
    2. Hold for 10 seconds, then move head back to upright position.
    3. Repeat slowly, five times.
    Neck extension
    1. Gently move head backward, eyes toward ceiling. Keep arms and shoulders relaxed.
    2. Hold for 10 seconds, then ease head to upright position.
    3. Repeat slowly, five times. If dizziness occurs, leave this exercise out of your neck routine.
    Neck rotation
    1. Gently turn your head as far as possible to one side. Keep arms and shoulders relaxed.
    2. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat slowly, five times on same side.
    3. Repeat on opposite side. If dizziness occurs, leave this exercise out of your neck routine.
    Neck flexion
    1. With head facing forward, gently tip ear toward one shoulder. Avoid rotating the head by not allowing chin to move outward. Keep arms and shoulders relaxed.
    2. Hold for five seconds. Repeat slowly, three times on same side.
    3. Repeat on opposite side.
    Neck retraction
    1. Starting with a natural head position, move entire face forward. Avoid dipping chin up or down. Keep arms and shoulders relaxed.
    2. Move face back until you get a double-chin effect.
    3. Hold for 5 seconds in each position. Repeat slowly, three times.
    This move is excellent for counteracting the chin-forward, slumping posture that is so common to those of us who labor over work stations and keyboards. Some call it the chicken tuck — if you do this at the office, you may want to be sure your Web cam is turned off!
    Cindy Quick Wilson is a certified trainer at Women's Fitness Company in Medford.
    Thanks to Teresa Casey for demonstrating
    the neck exercises in this month’s column.
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