Yoga Over 45

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Neck and shoulder pain is a common complaint amongst my students, who ask which postures are best for relieving the sometimes chronic pain or tension they are feeling in that area of their spine.

In this 3 part series of posts I'll look at what causes neck and shoulder pain - some simple exercises to focus on to help reduce existing problems and finally some simple things you can do to help ensure you prevent it from coming back!

So - first: What causes neck and shoulder pain?

Unless it's the result of an accident or underlying medical condition, aches and pains around the neck and shoulders are most often the result of persistent poor posture.

In today's world of sitting at desks, working on computers or with our heads permanently bowed looking at our mobile devices, or slumped on the sofa watching TV, is it any wonder our necks and shoulders begin to feel the pressure?

When you sit slumped, hands out in front to type or hold a device, your neck is often jutting forward so your neck and shoulder muscles have to work harder to keep your head erect. Do this for hours on end without really moving, and it's no wonder your upper spine is screaming by the end of the day!

Take a look at the diagram below. Recognise yourself?

When you slump, your shoulder blades widen, moving away from the spine which over time, chronically weakens and overstretches your muscles. If you keep repeating this poor posture (and many of us do it daily!), then those muscles toughen, and become more fibrous to try and protect you from this repeated strain you're placing on your upper spine. Sometimes they go into spasm, leaving you with screaming pains around your shoulder blades and your neck.

Practical tip 1:

Starting today, get a small notebook and just note down/keep a log of how many minutes you sit or stand in that slumped position.

Simply beginning to become more aware of what you're doing will make you automatically take some preventive/corrective measures and that's OK! But just become more aware of where the danger areas are for you.

And watch out for part 2 of this series of posts, for some simple yoga postures to help you relieve and prevent neck and shoulder pain in the future.

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Shona Garner

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