Between hunching over a desk all day and craning our heads forward to constantly check our cell phones, most of us are walking around with stiff, aching necks at the end of the day. Sitting with proper posture certainly helps, along with taking a break from your desk—and your phone. But rather than waiting until you’re already in trouble with your neck, Frank Musumeci, the biomechanical and musculoskeletal director at Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa in Miami, recommends doing a few exercises that can prevent a stiff neck in the first place.
“The best thing to do is strengthening the muscles between the shoulder blades, as well as the core and neck,” suggests Musumeci. “That should help you decrease the frequency and severity of neck pain.”
Roll shoulders back and down by squeezing shoulder blades down and together. Then rotate hands outward, thrust chest and tuck chin. Relax and repeat. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
2Quadruped Upper Limb Lift With Chin Tuck
Get on hands and knees, keeping a neutral spine and abs tight. Pull shoulder blades down and towards your spine. Hold this position as you lift one arm straight in front of you, while tucking your chin. Bring arm back down. Alternate arms. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
3Lower Trapezius Pull Downs
Hang two 3-5-foot-long resistant bands (such as Thera-Bands) over top of a door, tying a knot in each and placing the knot on the other side of the door to keep bands in place (or you can use 2 dumbbells). Sit up straight on a chair or exercise ball facing the door. With palms facing away from your body, elbows and shoulders in line, and holding bands or dumbbells, pull elbows down. Focus on contracting shoulder muscles and bringing shoulders together as you pull down. Do not raise your chest or bend your back. Return to start position. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.
4Seated Reverse Fly
Take two 3-5-foot resistant bands, knot ends together and place them at chest height on the other side of a closed door to secure them. Sit on a chair or exercise ball. Grip a band in each hand with your arms straight in front of you. Keeping arms straight, pull arms out to the side. Squeeze shoulder blades. Return to start position. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.