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Mother Always Said, "Sit Up Straight!"

written by: Veronica Sky • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 7/31/2011

Read about various posture improving exercises that you can whenever you get a spare moment.

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    It's All About Posture

    At some point of our lives, all of us have heard the familiar phrase “sit up straight!", but how many of us have been told to correct our head posture?

    The goal of cervical retraction exercises is to strengthen you head and neck area. If you suffer from back, shoulder, or neck pain, then these exercises are a must. You may not realize that your head weighs about eight pounds. If your head is not aligned correctly, this can put a lot of stress on the cervical spine joints and cervical nerves.

    Over time, this can result in arthritis and degenerative changes of the cervical spine. The lower neck is where the nerves which connect to your neck muscles, upper back, shoulders, arms, and arms are located. When these nerves are damaged, it can result in numbness and tingling in the arms and hands as well as neck pain.

    We will discuss exercises all of which can be done at your convenience while you are watching TV, in the car, or even at the office.

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    Exercise 1:

    Put your right index finger and your middle finger in the center of the chin and push on your chin in a backwards direction. Imagine your head as a bowling ball that is able to slide from front to back. Then, slide your fingers back and hold the position for 15 seconds. Release your head and repeat this action 2 to 3 times. Continue doing these repetitions every day until you can work up to 10 to 12 per day.

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    Exercise 2:

    Sit up straight in a chair, keeping your chin as level as possible, slowly pull the chin straight. Imagine that you are pressing yourself against a wall; do not allow your head to bob up and down. Keep your neck as long as possible; the highest point of your body should be the top of your head. You should try to do this exercise while you are on the computer because it will prevent your head from slipping forward as you are working.

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    Exercise 3:

    Cervical nodding is a great exercise. This movement stretches the suboccipital muscles which are located at the base of your skull. Start by sitting up straight, and then nod your head up and down about ½ inch. As you move your head down, you should be able to feel a stretching sensation at the base of your skull.

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    Easy and Effective!

    These are three easy exercises that can be done throughout the day. Start off by doing a few repetitions and build up towards a reasonable number. Remember that the correct head posture is when the ears are directly above the shoulders. Practice keeping your head in this position until it becomes habit. Doing these exercises is vital to the health of your neck and back and can prevent future injury.

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    References

    Gill, Nav, BSc. D.C., The Neck Pain Blogger, "Can Forward Head Posture Cause Pain?," The Neck Pain Blog, http://www.neckpainsupport.com/2008/12/can-forward-head-posture-cause-pain-.html

    Life, Arc 4. "Cervical Traction Neck Pillow I Buy Neck Pillows Online I Neck Pillow for Cervical Traction &Neck Pain Relief." Neck Pillow and Cervical Traction for Neck Pain Relief I Dr Recommended Neck Pillows & Neck Pain Support. Storesonline. Web. 18 July 2011. <http://www.arc4life.com/site/615058/page/158456>.

    Staff, Mayo Clinic. "Video: Neck Stretches for the Office." Mayo Clinic. 18 Sept. 2009. Web. <www.mayoclinic.com/health/neck- stretches/MM00708>.