Do you sit at a desk a lot? Do you carry a bag on one shoulder? Do you use a cell phone without a blue tooth? Is your head on straight? I mean this literally, of course.
Generally speaking, the head should be directly above and between the shoulders when the neck is neutral or comfortable. Ideally for the spine, the ears are directly over the shoulders, and the chin is about parallel to the floor. But have you ever looked at a person sitting at a computer? General computer head placement has the jaw reaching forward toward the computer screen and the ears inches closer to the screen than the shoulders. And I’m not sure why, but many people tilt their heads to one side or the other.
Are you wondering where your neck strain originates?
In a recent yoga class (ok, two recent yoga classes), my teacher looked at me lying in savasana and informed me my head was tilted to the right. When she finally told me it was straight, it felt wrong. I felt like I was leaning to my left, and there was a ton of pressure on the left side of my head. But then a funny thing happened. My neck, jaw, eyes, and back all started to relax.
When we place the neck in a compromising position, we pull everything out of alignment. The rest of the body has to compensate, so our shoulders move up to our ears, one side of the rib cage takes more strain, or we pull up on our lower back causing it to hurt. Oh, and of course the jaw tightens to compensate for the overworked neck muscles.
So what can we do about it? This post is part of the series At the Desk, but this tip needs to be first done away from the desk – at a mirror, unless of course you have a mirror at your desk. But stand in front of a mirror for a few minutes and instead of noticing the bags under your eyes or your pasty skin from being inside all winter (sure signs you have been writing a thesis for too long), notice whether your head is on straight. Trust the mirror and your eyes, even though the neck might feel funny.
Then hold the neck in a truly neutral position for 1-2 minutes. How does your neck feel? How does the rest of your body feel?
Then head back to the desk, and remind yourself over and over again to keep your head on straight. It is one of the hardest things for me to do at the desk, but I constantly remind myself to put my ears over my shoulders and ensure the spine is straight.
Is your head on straight?
Is your head on straight? is part of the series At the Desk, which focuses on practical tips from the yoga world (and other interesting finds) to help those of us stuck at the desk all day long. If you are interested in other tips, click the label “At the Desk,” and if you have any specific questions you would like to see discussed, send them my way.
© Rebecca Stahl 2011, all rights reserved.