Do you struggle with neck and shoulder pain? If so, you are not alone. This is a condition that affects a large proportion of people these days and in many ways is symptomatic of our current lifestyles.
Don’t dismay: there is a simple and easy exercise you can use that has been shown to help reduce discomfort in these areas in a whopping 50% of cases. And as an added bonus, if you add this program to your routine you’ll also benefit from a better stance that will flatten your stomach, increase your height and generally improve your health.
As mentioned a lot of people these days suffer from neck and shoulder pain. This is particularly true for those that work in an office at a computer. In this case, you will likely spend much of your time hunched over and typing with your shoulders and neck leaning forward.
Over time, this causes your peck muscles (the ones on your chest) to shorten and tighten, while the muscles on your back (the lats and the traps) become slack and weaker.
The end result is that you walk around like a caveman and unsurprisingly experience pain in the affected areas. This is known as kyphosis in extreme cases.
The exercise then is simply the side lateral raise. Here, you stand with your feet together and arms by your sides, holding in your hands two light dumbbells. Now, you are going to raise your arms directly up by your sides in a crucifix position.
This works to strengthen your lateral deltoids – the muscles on the outside of your shoulders. As these strengthen, this in turn helps to keep your shoulders in the correct position throughout the day. As an added bonus, it will also help to stretch your pecs due to the similarity with the pec fly and that will help to prevent the pulling that brings the arms forward.
There are also a number of other exercises you can to do improve your flexibility and posture. Bent over raises are a similar movement that require you to bend forward as you perform reps and this targets your posterior (rear) deltoids.
Another useful one is to perform either pull ups or lat pull downs. Either of these will target the lats which can act as a counterpoint to the pecs and pull your body back around the front.
Also important is to avoid doing what a lot of people do in the gym – focusing on the ‘mirror muscles’. Mirror muscles are the ones that look good in the mirror – like the abs and the pecs and invariably they are found on the front of the body.
Spend all day doing sit ups, bench presses and bicep curls though and ignore your lat pull downs, shrugs, triceps extensions and erector spinae and the result will be that your front pulls the rest of your body down into a ball.
Bear all this in mind next time you hit the gym and you can remedy your poor posture instead of adding to it!