Chances are somewhere around half of the people reading this (yeah, that’s you) will suffer either a stiff, painful neck and shoulders right now or will have them by the end of the workday.
Alpha-geeks and desk-jockeys are particularly at risk because of notoriously bad ergonomics (dude, we can’t all have Aeron chairs, floating double monitors and ergo-keyboards) and often long-hours spent with very little movement beyond the classic 3pm Red Bull twitch. Which is why…
A recent study out of Denmark is amazing news for neck and shoulder pain relief.
This study by Denmark’s National Research Centre For The Working Environment looked at a group of 94 women. Seventy-nine percent of the participants worked on a keyboard for at least 75% of each day.
And, all had been diagnosed with trapezius myalgia.
That’s a fancy way of saying “that big muscle that runs down the neck, across the top of your shoulders and down the center of your back…is tight, tender and hurts like a mother. Along with trigger points, these symptoms can often graduate to headaches, too
Participants were split into 3 groups. One did nothing, we’ll call this group the Slackers. Another did general fitness conditioning, we’ll call them the Fondettes. And, a third group, the Alpha-Geek Muscle-Marauders, did three simple shoulder and neck exercises (demonstrated below), three times a week. The study lasted 10 weeks, guess what happened?
The Slackers, well, they got no relief. No big surprise there. The Fondettes saw minimal relief and it only lasted a short period after exercise. But…
The Alpha-Geek Muscle-Marauders totally rawked neck pain!
Yup, the last group, the one that did 3 simple exercises, 3 times a week showed tremendous improvement in neck pain, leading the researchers to proclaim, in three part harmony (you know those Denmarkians),
“Based on the present results, supervised high-intensity dynamic strength training of the painful muscle 3 times a week for 20 minutes should be recommended in the treatment of trapezius myalgia.”
Translation–got a pain in the neck, get thee to the gym!
Does this mean all neck pain will be cured by three magic exercises done three times a week? No, don’t be silly, there could be all sorts of other things going on. And, as always, the recovering-lawyer in me needs to put out there that you should always seek the advice of a qualified health care professional before beginning any new fitness or well-care regime.
But, for those suffering from tightness, tenderness and pain in the trapezius, this might be an interesting, free, fairly easy solution, so ask your fitness/health care person about it.
Here are the three exercises that helped relieve neck pain.
Each one should be done 3 times a week on non-consecutive days, 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Begin with light weights (2 pound dumbbells, then graduate as your strength accommodates). For best/safest results, have a fitness professional show you proper form.
Neck Pain Relief Exercise #1: Shoulder Shrugs
Stand with your arms by your sides, hold a dumbbell in each hand with your hands facing your body. As you exhale, shrug your shoulder tops up toward your ears, pause at the top, then release as you inhale.
Neck Pain Relief Exercise #2: Reverse Flies
Stand with soft knees, hold dumbbells in hands, bend forward 45-90 degrees, keeping your back long. and stomach drawn lightly in. Bend your elbows just a little, then on an exhale draw your shoulder blades together like you were squeezing a pen between them and flare your arms slowly out to the sides. Pause at the top for a second, then relax back down as you inhale.
Neck Pain Relief Exercise #3: Upright Row
Stand with your arms by your sides, holding dumbbells lightly against the front of your thighs with your palms facing in. With an exhale, begin to slide the dumbbells up the front of your body until they reach the collarbones, flaring your elbows to the sides. Pause at the top, then inhale as you lower.
As you can see, I finally went the extra mile and hired a professional photographer to do this shoot, so I could focus entirely on form (For those, new to the blog, um, that was a joke, no photographer was paid, nor were any photographers harmed).
So, what do you guys think? Look interesting? Anyone willing to give it a try and report back? I know I am going to.
And, how about my jazzy t-shirt designs (note to self, will have to start selling them at next year’s SXSW)?
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