A strong and healthy neck is one that is properly aligned. Your head should be just above the shoulders. If yours is not, you need to learn and practice how to strengthen neck muscles for posture.
If your neck is slanted in a manner that puts it in front of your shoulders rather than above it, then you have forward head posture. This is also known as nerd neck.
Maintaining such a position can cause spinal injury or degeneration. It also strains your neck muscles tremendously.
The more you maintain this sort of posture, the more you’ll experience neck pain or stiffness. Forward neck posture also results in a hunched upper back.
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According to this study, back neck posture leads to sleep problems like insomnia and apnea. It restricts your breathing, may lead to muscle spasms and could cause joint pain or numbness in your hands and arms.
Another study showed that nerd neck is increasingly associated with cervical arthritis, osteoporosis and bulging discs.
You thus need to know how to strengthen neck muscles for posture.
WHAT CAUSES WEAK NECK MUSCLES?
The first and most prominent cause of bad neck posture is spending too much time in front of your computer screen.
Most times the computer is placed below your face and that forces you to look down. Even if it is not, you may extend your neck to see something clearly.
If you are a phone addict who spends the better part of their day texting or reading things from your phone then this could be another cause.
Some professions involve staying in the same position for a long time such as driving, writing, computer programming, massage therapy or painting.
If you play sports like golf or tennis and always use one side of your upper body, then this can be a source of nerd neck.
Poor sleeping habits are also a leading cause of poor neck posture. If you put too many pillows under your neck, this could cause it to extend.
Overall, if you spend a long time staring down, you will develop weak neck posture.
CAN BAD NECK POSTURE BE CORRECTED?
Absolutely. You can do neck strengthening exercises to correct bad neck posture.
If you understand the causes of nerd neck, you can also change each of these factors so that you can have correct neck posture.
10 PROVEN TIPS ON HOW TO STRENGTHEN NECK MUSCLES FOR POSTURE
1. TRY THE CHIN TUCK
This exercise is quite effective for forward head posture and tight muscles.
You simply need to stand straight and align your head with your shoulders such that your ears are on the same level with your shoulders.
Lower your chin slightly towards your chest as you move the back of your head towards the front. Hold that position for 3 counts then return to the normal position and repeat.
2. TRY THE PRONE COBRA
Another way of how to strengthen neck muscles for posture is through this advanced exercise.
You will need to lie with your face looking down. Stretch your hands outward as you bend them.
Move your shoulder blades towards each other so that you can lift your head off the floor. Hold the position for 10, go back to the floor then repeat.
3. DO THE DOWNWARD NECK TILT
One technique of how to strengthen neck muscles for posture is to attempt the above exercise.
Stand straight then tilt your head toward to the side. Continue to do this until your ear almost touches your shoulders.
Hold that position for 6 seconds then repeat on the opposite side.
According to this study, doing neck exercises builds muscles and minimizes shoulder and neck pain that is work-related.
4. CORRECT YOUR POSTURE WHEN WORKING OR SITTING
Every time you get in front of a screen, resist the urge to extend your neck outward or look down. The same applies to conversing with someone.
When texting, place your phone directly across your eyes rather than downward.
It will be impossible to strengthen your neck muscles reactively when you keep doing the same things that lead to poor posture and weakness in the first place.
5. ELEVATE YOUR DESK
At work, it is easy to develop a nerd neck when your laptop, desktop or other devices are below you.
Consider purchasing desks that are easily adjustable and can reduce the need to lower your eyes.
6. FIX YOUR CHAIR AND SITTING POSITION
Being ergonomic with your sitting position is another way of how to strengthen neck muscles for posture. Your neck does not work alone. It leads to your spine which is situated in your back.
You should thus endeavor to remove pressure from your neck by getting a chair that is at the right height and one that supports your back.
Avoid slouching in your chair as this strains your neck significantly.
7. DO THE BACK BURN
This exercise requires you to stand against a wall. Pull your head back so that it can touch the wall without moving your chin up.
Let your arms touch the wall then raise your hands above your head and then lower them. As you carry out this exercise, ensure that your lower back is flat then repeat it 10 times.
8. DO THE SIDE HEAD TILT
If you are wondering how to strengthen neck muscles for posture, this lateral exercise can help to balance out the vertical exercises suggested above.
Start by standing straight then rotating your head to the right until you feel a considerable stretch. Hold that position for 5 counts then repeat on the left hand side.
9. DO THE EXTENDED NECK
This exercise involves standing and extending your head forward then holding for 6 seconds then releasing.
While it may seem counterintuitive to mimic the same posture position that is causing you problems, this exercise still helps to strengthen your neck exercise because you will be moving and adjusting the neck not keeping it in the same position.
10. FIX YOUR SLEEPING HABITS
Since the wrong pillow and sleeping habits can cause weak neck muscles, you need to rectify this.
Get yourself an orthopedic pillow or a pillow that is curved. The beauty about such a pillow is that it will conform to the contours of neck, head and spine.
By the end of the night you should feel relieved not in pain. This pillow works by neutralizing the alignment of your neck and not flexing it.
If you cannot find an orthopedic pillow then you may consider rolling a towel under your neck as you sleep.
Do note that not everyone will respond to this type of pillow the same way, so choose a product that will make you as comfortable as possible.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Nerd neck exercises and other tips on how to strengthen neck muscles for posture are geared towards correcting the problems that caused them in the first place.
Always avoid positions that make you look downward all the time. Correct the type of pillow you use and the position of your desk or seat.
The above tips thus have to do with postural alignment, restoration of gait and balance.
You also want to try neck exercises that will cover a wide range of motion such as latitudinal and longitudinal movements. The exercises also restore flexibility and build greater muscle strength in your neck.